Yesterday, the BBC published a story on its News Website. Nothing unusual about that, you might say. And of course you’d be right. Except that this particular story was about a report whose authors included two bottom feeding ambitious Conservative MPs, Elizabeth Truss (MP for South Norfolk) and Dominic Raab (MP for Esher), who claim that “Too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work.” While neither of them may have an aversion to hard work themselves, they certainly don’t show a history of having to sit at the sharper end of our clearly vibrant and dynamic economy.
Anyway, as far as the writing is concerned: helpful of them. For a start one might ask precisely what most MPs are up to at the current time, having risen from the Commons on July 17, due to return on September 3. They’ll be back for a grand total of 15 days before skipping gaily off for the autumn jolly of conference season for the thick end of a month. If we’re being brutally honest, the House of Commons appears to be in recess almost as much as it is in session. But yes, there are constituency duties to perform, I suppose. And let’s not forget all those lovely, lovely directorships.
With the working hours, expense regime and other perks that our members of parliament enjoy, is it any wonder that so many pasty-faced policy wonks want to get on the gravy train after coming out of university and dropping into a researcher’s job in a policy unit. If they did that and bypassed most of the the real economy, they might be forgiven for thinking that everyone in the economy has it as cushy as they do. But most people in this country would know how wrong that is.
The authors are mostly members of a group of thrusting young Conservatives who found themselves elected to the House in 2010; they are part of the great Cameron revolution (I know, I know). So they pretty much parrot back the mantras that a generation of Conservatives, raised on the bitter milk of Maggie’s ideological teat, have learned so well. The major thrust of this document is that Britain needs to reward “graft, risk and effort”. Superficially this sounds like a great plan and uncontroversial, except that the last time we tried “rewarding risk” in the dynamic way they want, the economy got screwed for 700bn pounds by people who were far too happy to spend long hours (and lunches) taking risks gambling with other people’s money. Our money, in fact.
Increasingly large numbers of people are being forced to work longer hours on increasingly poor pay just to keep up with the rises in living costs over the last few years. And it’s even worse if you happen to live in the over-inflated bubble that is London, one of the most expensive cities to live in Western Europe. It was inevitable that there would be an adjustment following the banking balls-up. What was less inevitable, though unfortunately mostly predictable, was that most of the bottom 90% of the income earners would end up being asked to assume the age-old position by the very wealthiest in society. Again..
The real point of the report comes when they start to decry “an excessive public sector”, substantial public sector pension liabilities and a welfare system which “does not provide sufficient incentives to work”. Notice that the people complaining about these problems are also paid out of the public purse, collect one of the most generous pension schemes in the country, are almost unique for a so-called “professional” body in not being regulated by anyone other than themselves and are not at the sharp end of the “incentives” to work that they talk about. Basically, this is a right wing screed against the public services. Given the collapse of the economy under George Osborne‘s stewardship, one would think that they might have noticed some significant correlation between the two. For all the “thrusting” new era language, this is just the same old toss: if the economy’s in the dumpster, it’s our fault for not working hard enough. It’s certainly not the fault of anyone in Government (because they all work so very very hard. Those country suppers are so wearing, you know….), or the financial service industry. So we should just shut up, and work harder for less reward, because that is our place.
I have just this to say: Non serviam.