I come from Norfolk, this weird hump on the map of the UK, a world of farmers and not much else. It isn’t hip or happening even for someone who himself isn’t hip or happening. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do and even getting in and out of town is difficult. When I was growing up, we were part of a scheme to improve the quality of life in cities across the UK. I was never sure what that scheme did. As far as I could tell it just helped quaint little towns stay quaint little towns.
There was a time when I thought about moving away from the UK. My cousin and his family live in Australia and they seem happy there; for a while, I thought of maybe moving there, too, but to be honest, it’s just too much effort. When I went to Australia, I just hated not being at home. I’m a creature of habit. I just like things to happen the way I know them to happen.
Then there is this time difference. Even when talking to my cousin, I always check what time it is and whether I can write to him or not. Sure, we have the Internet and I can write to him anytime, but I always consider what time it is at his end; it’s a hassle. Then my nephew was born and I decided I'd rather watch him grow up than live in Australia.
The UK is home, but there are a lot of things that worry me about the direction of the country. I have never lived in a place where someone I voted for actually got into office and I don’t feel the Government represents my interests.
The Conservatives shape policy in a way that ensures that the people who once voted for them vote for them again. I suppose it’s what all political parties do, but the Conservatives are determined to protect their older, rich electorate at the expense of everyone else.
People in my age bracket – the 20-40-year-olds – have been dubbed Generation Rent. They’re the people who will never be able to afford their own house. Owning a house may not the be-all-end-all in our world, but the wealth gap between the young and the old has tripled in the last few years. As a citizen, there is nothing I can do to stop this, but the Government has the power to create and enforce laws that can change this; they’ve done very little if anything at all.
The Conservatives like to talk about how we need more affordable housing, but that’s not what’s out there. It’s not in the Conservatives’ interest to make sure young people can get on the property ladder. Even in places like Buckinghamshire, there are more retirement estates being built than houses for first-time buyers.
I’m quite lucky to be living in an affordable house share and to have a job that pays enough for me to live and save to potentially one day buy my own place. Not everyone is this lucky. The media talks about how my generation is making restaurants shut down because no one wants to eat out. How are we supposed to eat out if all the money we have is spent on housing?
Now we have Brexit to look forward to. I wasn’t surprised by the result, but I was surprised by how the Government chose to act on it. After Mr. Cameron quit, Ms. May didn’t have a much to play with; she had to choose this hard option because otherwise she’d have a party rebellion on her hands. It's as if these people choose power over the country.
However Brexit happens, we’re looking at ten or twenty years where prices go up and the wages can’t keep up. We will probably have to live through another period of austerity because the regions that currently receive substantial funding from the EU will have to be funded in another way. Budgets will be changed and all this mythical money that Brexit was supposed to save will not materialize.
I suppose, in the long-run, leaving the EU won’t matter; in ten or twenty years things will have normalized and we’ll have forgotten any of this ever happened. Still, this Government made a big decision on my behalf; it’s not the decision I would have made.
Pete Hardy is a software tester and gamer who really likes spin.