the concept of a telephone, and the idea of using a computer to access something called the internet. They will almost certainly have a chip embedded somewhere that will allow them to consume vast quantities of infinitely short videos which will be all that their micro-attention spans can take.
I’m not entirely sure that age automatically conveys wisdom, but it certainly allows you to reflect more on things you see in the news. And, assuming your memory isn’t playing tricks on you, you can feel pretty confident that you’ve seen and heard it all before. Listening to Sir Keir Starmer’s recent announcement about how Labour plans to tackle the country’s housing crisis and build 300,000 homes per year was a case in point. It involved the Opposition leader confessing to being a YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard), and promising to streamline the planning system, override local planning objections, and build some new towns somewhere. Which is where the déjà vu feeling started to creep up on me, because I’ve heard it all several times before, and from politicians of every party.
The reason we’ve had a housing crisis for as long as most people can remember is because it’s impossible to solve without upsetting people. And most politicians are predisposed not to want to upset people for obvious reasons, even though many of them somehow manage very successfully to do quite the opposite. So, when faced with an issue that’s both hugely important and not easy to fix, politicians have a tendency to kick the can down the road. They’re not allowed to ignore the problem and hope it goes away, because that would be irresponsible. But equally they won’t actually change anything meaningful because it upsets voters and gives the Opposition something to beat them up with. Which isn’t something you’d want to do when the next general election is only four years away, tops. To be fair, you might witness some early-term exuberance from the odd fresh-faced housing minister still hopeful that they will be the one to make a difference. Robert Jenrick was a case in point; his ill-fated attempted to fix the planning system a couple of years ago resulted in a lost by-election, a back-bench revolt, and his untimely departure from government. But he’s not alone; the housing portfolio is to politicians what appearing in The Bill is to the acting profession, and we’ve had about a dozen housing ministers in as many years. So, rather cynically, we end up with a plate spinning exercise where success can be counted as reaching the next election with the plate still intact and everyone thinking that a solution is around the corner and it’s all still work-in-progress. Or maybe it’s me who’s being cynical (in my old age).