Thatcher – the Right to Buy

Richard Harries was working at an advice point when he came across this story which he recounts in his poem below. Two brothers living together in council housing, next door to each other have different fates as a result of the one deciding to buy and the other not.

Richard had been to University in his Forties doing a degree on Social and Community Studies. His dissertation was on Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy policy. He is a performance poet all over the North of England. He has had three books of his poems published.

He tells us that

“I was so annoyed by this case and others that Thatcher caused. Most elderly people on good quality well run council estates bought their homes and then most have now passed away. They left them largely to relatives, most of whom had their own homes so they were sold. Initially they went cheap and wealthy landlords bought them so most now are in the hands of the wealthy instead of being vital social affordable housing. All those things made me write it, out of anger and disgust.”

He’s on Twitter at

Thatcher – The Right to Buy

By Richard Harries Copyright

I loved my home

Not just a house

I treasured it

I decorated and repaired it

Not just a council house

Where we lived

My brother had one too

Next door

We worked in the mill

Had a full

And happy life

Wife, children


It was hard

We were poor

But life was grand

Then came 79

And Thatcher arrived

In power

She started right away

Telling me

To buy

My home

I could have a stake in it

Be proud


I was not sure


As time went by

She preached more

She inspired me

I could go on

Be an owner


Not just the old me

So I hesitated

But then

After dithering

And wondering


I bought our home

It was grand

It was mine

I thought my brother daft

He owned nowt, just paid the rent

Giving the capital away he was


Then the mill closed

There was no work

We were broke

My brother?

Went on housing benefit

Had less money but

No problems really

He was OK



No payment to cover my mortgage

I owed

Got sick with worry


Then notices



Wife and kids?

On the street

Got emergency housing

In a hostel

Damp and smelly

The wife left

With the kids

Went back to mother


Out on the street

No place for a man

Who was ‘not vulnerable’

They sold the house

Negative equity they said

So I have no home

Someone else lives there

Next to my brother

And I have debt

How do I recover?

I guess I don’t

Thanks Thatcher

You gave me pride?

Made me someone?

Who was that then?

With the Right to Buy!

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