Dysfunctional Britain

Unaccustomed as I am to reading the ‘Spectator’, I think this article worth highlighting. It not only draws attention to an informative book, ‘Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain’, recounting the author, James Bloodworth’s experiences in Britain’s ‘gig’ economy, the ‘Spectator’ article actually thinks it is worth sending to the Prime Minister.

The Spectator refers to Bloodworth as a Marxist, which I rather doubt, but even if he were, he doesn’t seem to much care for the style of Soviet Marxism that appears to have been wholeheartedly embraced by Amazon. This is from the ‘Guardian’ book review:

While he was walking the miles of corridors in Amazon’s Rugeley warehouse, a comparison between today’s gig economy and yesterday’s Soviet Union hit him. All around were admonishments “to workers to feel joyful at the prospect of struggle”. Socialist realism had mutated into corporate uplift. In a Staffordshire warehouse the size of 10 football pitches, feelgood slogans were plastered next to pictures of beaming workers. “We love coming to work and miss it when we are not here!” they announced.

One [Romanian] told Bloodworth he worked like an animal and was a nobody in the UK. But in Romania he would be a nobody without enough to eat.
The average eastern European meets two types of people in England: “those who wanted you to go home and those who wrote letters to liberal newspapers waxing colourfully about how wonderful and hardworking you were”.

Of course the inappropriately named ‘gig’ economy is not only famous for its exploitative attitudes towards its agents and employees, investors seem to have lost their bearings too. So a company like Deliveroo with no outlets and virtually no employees of its own, is worth more than another operator in the food and drink sector – the pub group Wetherspoons. Now I’m not a great fan of its soft Brexit boss, but it does serve well kept beer at good prices, and while their food is pretty poor at least they have been successful at re-purposing hundreds of otherwise redundant, rather characterful buildings in towns throughout Britain. When, somehow, Deliveroo, with not much more than a few pale green insulated back packs and just one idea to its name, is worth more to investors than a company with property in almost every town in Britain then there is something not right.

And when even the ‘Spectator’ can write:

Robert Peel’s Conservative Party was not put on this earth to make life easy for jet-setting billionaires even if it has spent much of its time acting like it. When Peel resigned, he told the Commons he would leave a name ‘execrated by every monopolist who… clamours for protection because it conduces to his own individual benefit’ but one ‘remembered with expressions of good will in the abodes of those whose lot it is to labour and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow’. That, and not a fetish for oligarchs and cheap labour, should be the Tories’ guiding philosophy.

You can be sure that the Conservatives have completely lost their way. The only real wonder is that Labour hasn’t completely found it.

Oh and yes, dysfunction confirmed, the book is, of course, available on Amazon.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    I do fear for what the UK is becoming, many British vote Conservative and buy the Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph. Its good to see even the Spectator is worried.

  2. Peter May -

    Agreed, but a diminuishing band actually buy newspapers, which gives me some hope. That diminuishing band are also mostly the youth. So I still retain a hint of optimism…

  3. Ivan Horrocks -

    Sean, Peter, if you want evidence of the entities and activities at work behind much of this stinking system you should watch Chris Wylie’s evidence to the Culture Select Committee today. Corruption, misuse of power, and outright illegality exposed. I’d only add that in the debate in Parliament the Brexiteers soon ensured this descended into a spat about whether they or Remain spent most, whereas as Chris Wylie says, this is an irrelevance. The question is was the law broken? (pretty clearly on his evidence it was). Who by (again, his evidence makes that transparent)? And what was the outcome (Wylie’s view – based on other influence campaigns he’s been involved in – is yes)? In short, the vote was illegally influenced. Not that I have any confidence this will lead to any action other than a fine.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks. A Guardian article here https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/27/brexit-groups-had-common-plan-to-avoid-election-spending-laws-says-wylie

      Sadly I think you are correct. I think the max fine is something like £30,000.

      Of course if illegality is proved the referendum should be declared null and void.

      I spoke to Mike Galsworthy one of the leading figures in the Remain campaign on Sunday and he said they were meticulous about being absolutely squeaky clean.

      1. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

        “I think the max fine is something like £30,000.”

        Given the sums of money (allegedly) at stake this is a piffling fine.

        Discussion on Tax Research UK recently about fines imposed on financial firms including Big 4 concluded that fines like this are nowadays considered to be just part of the cost of doing business – probably costed in to contracts and a bonus when not applied.

      2. Graham -

        Probably tax deductible too.

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