A new book by five Tory MPs castigating British workers as lazy contains some absolutely cracking lines. Britannia Unchained is written by Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Elizabeth Truss — all elected in 2010 — as a right-wing call to arms.
Amongst Scrapbook’s favourite extracts is the quintet’s idea of where British industriousness still endures:
“The British are working less hard than they used to, but pockets of the work ethic still exist among the industrious taxi drivers or in the culture of the City of London.”
Perhaps if we were a nation of bankers and taxi drivers, then we’d be doing much better. But considering the financial crisis, perhaps not.
Of further interest is who is to blame for our lethargic malaise — students. The gallant outriders of modern day Thatcherism claim:
“For many students sipping coffee in the common room, clubbing or lazing around appeals more than poring over a test tube or doing complicated sums.”
The image that the authors paint, of students applying “for a degree in media or business, which will often allow for the study of easier A Levels”, doesn’t quite gel with the findings of an NUS survey, which said that half of students have to work to fund their studies.
Whilst we’re on the subject of laziness, it looks like the quintet should have done a little more research. Indeed, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, Jonathan Portes, has demolished the evidence base for the book, calling it:
“a randomly strung-together mixture of anecdote, assertion and rehashed articles from a wide variety of sources, ranging from the Mail to the Economist to that old staple, ‘A research study found …’ “.