It appears that the world has temporarily gone mad. Or at least temporarily remembered that life is incredibly different if you have lots of money. But, a bit like anger at the banks for pretty much bringing this country to its knees then having the cheek to ask for a helping billion or two, the swell of indignation will die down leaving but a few angry vessels beached on the sand dunes of rage. Once that occurs maybe we can sit down and have an adult conversation.
Things to learn
How often has the sector been on the back foot struggling to explain a concept many outside of the sector don’t understand?
Firstly, what is it with us British and mentioning sex and/or money? A slight whiff of those topics and we go all Hugh Grant in a 1990s rom-com. For once I am largely on the side of our Prime Minister (shocking, I know). Whilst some would have you believe otherwise Mr Cameron Snr has legally, and to a large extent morally, done nothing wrong. Guilt by association doesn’t mean guilt, which is funnily enough something the UK Justice System found out to its cost this year. What Mr Cameron Jnr has done wrong however is drop the ball regarding his response to a non-event. But more crucially he failed to grasp the general feeling and perception around the issue at hand. For the uninformed this is an interesting take on the ramifications of Blairmore-gate in the Economist online. However, setting aside the embarrassment of David Cameron, there are one or two things for housing to pick up here.
Your argument is as good as there are ears willing to listen
You can have facts, figures and the belief in a moral argument on your side, but that doesn’t mean you will win the argument. Sound familiar Housing Comms people (pay attention at the back). I’m not going to overly slag off how we do things. Though if you are feeling the need to feed your masochistic tendencies Mr Halewood is always on call to rightly pull us up on where things have slipped a bit. But how many times as a sector have there been inaccurate, but morally on point attacks against Chief Exec pay, or the amount of homes we build? How often has the sector been on the back foot, struggling to explain a concept many outside of the sector don’t understand. As G.I Joe notes, knowing is half the battle, if we don’t push what we do it is left for those outside the sector to fill in the gaps. This will not always be in a positive light.
Just as an FYI if you can fully and utterly explain the workings of the Camerons’ ‘Investment’ scheme I would be grateful. I get lost somewhere around the dollar-denominated global…zzzzzzzz bit. Sorry nodded off again. The FT have a good stab here mind.
When to go hard, when to go home
Ultimately it’s about being a bit more nuanced around news stories that affect the sector. The recent attack pieces in the Times and predecessor articles in the Standard and the Times (again) are easy to bat away on the figures side because the journalism around them has frankly been a bit haphazard. However, they tie into popular perceptions around the sector with those in power if not the general public. Knowing when to go full balls, and knowing when to be a bit more subtle is key to shaping the debate, and as the NHF keeps on saying ‘Own our future‘. Getting some press outside of the trade magazines and the Guardian Housing Network wouldn’t go amiss either. Stop preaching to the converted.
What we don’t need
A fucking hash-tag. Seriously, one more of those bloody things to promote yet another BS marketing/event ploy and I will be getting out the wet plimsolls and slapping (metaphorically of course) sense into people. A hash-tag based awareness/marketing approach on its own does not a successful campaign make. Or for someone with good intentions (I guess) like Alan Duncan going so far off message as to send the poor Conservative PR lass/guy into early retirement. To see him in full flow winning muppet of the day just go here. Tell me Alan, is there a cut off point for low earners, or is it tapered in, much like Universal Credit and now Starter Homes discount repayments? In fairness to the chap at least he attempted to clarify his statement, I think. I was to busy being synthetically indignant at being told about what is fair by someone who claimed over £4,000 of public money to have his lawn mowed (he did pay it back, and got demoted for his troubles). Behave and have a Snickers you silly sausage.