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 …’ “.

Oh, dear.

  1. I think it is these ‘researchers’ who are LAZY, since they can’t be bothered to actually do proper research. It’s a long time since I was a student, but I think this could be rephrased as follows…

    “For many journalists (and Tory MPs) hanging around watching students relax is more interesting than watching them working in labs or writing essays in the library” …….

  2. Presumably they will be calling for the closure of subsidised bars in the Houses of Parliament, an end to the summer recess and other long holidays, and pay at the same level as the national minimum wage?

  3. Er … how does pointing out some of the research appeared in the Economist or wherever amount to demolishing it?

    Something is either true or it isn’t. It seems rather beside the point to obsessed over whether the authors put the spreadsheets together themselves or relied on the data of others who did!

  4. now how else can cosseted career politicians look half decent if they dont accuse the wealth makers ? (workers) of being lazy!

  5. “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”

    Neither does it gel with the facts:

    The 10 most popular A-levels this year and for past three years in descending order: English, maths, biology, psychology, history, chemistry, art &design, general studies, physics and last of all, media studies.

    Furthermore, maths and science entries increased for the fifth year on the trot with maths alone now accounting for 10% of all entries.

  6. In total fairness, people in the City do work bloody hard. I’ve got a mate who works in mergers & acquisitions at a big investment bank; he gets in at 9AM and finishes at 3AM, takes a cab 45 minutes home, sleeps for as long as he can, showers, changes and gets back for 9AM. He does that 5 days a week, often 7. I couldn’t bloody well do that, no matter how much you paid me.

    That said, it’s a farce to single out the City as a pocket of work ethic when there are NHS nurses working 18h shifts in A&E, getting shat/bled/spat on, saving lives and watching people die, who make a fraction of what a City banker earns.

  7. This cavalier attitude to research is rather common with the Tories. have you ever seen any of the research published by the Centre for Social Justice? Laughable. as for Policy Exchange and Localis, they don’t even pretend to conduct research. They simply smear their prejudices all over 500+ pages. I mean, look at the Beecroft Report. Was there any research present in that? No.

  8. They’re just being insane and provocative so after they lose the next election they can embrace slightly more moderate positions and say “look how much I’ve changed”.

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