Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Put that pint down. Start solving. And stop blaming

As a teenager, William Hague used to deliver soft drinks and beer to pubs and clubs in Yorkshire. Some say that was the last time he had a proper job.

That, of course, would be too harsh an accusation to make against the foreign secretary. Obviously it would.

But you’d think it might have crossed his mind before he told Brits to get off their sofas, stop complaining and work harder.

Apparently, it didn’t.

He was blunt – the polite way of putting it. When business leaders, bosses and workers complained together there had been too little in the Budget to promote growth and save jobs, he snapped back like a bad-tempered schoolmaster at a naughty child.

“There's only one growth strategy: work harder,” he said.

He said Britain had suffered from decades of declining work ethic, with people believing they could live in debt forever rather than spending what they had earned by working.

So, they you are then. That’s us told in no uncertain terms. In a country with fewer public holidays than any other in Europe, as a workforce committed to longer working days than any of our European counterparts – skint, exhausted and none too sure of a job come Christmas, that’s us neatly put in our place. We are, in the eyes of the onetime beer deliverer – who famously confessed to drinking a pint at every one of his 14 daily stops – slackers.

We have brought our current woes upon ourselves by not working hard enough.

Meanwhile his boss is busy batting off probably invalid charges of not putting his back into his job. David Cameron is reported by his critics – who are many and various – to be spending too much time “chillaxing” which is a word made up either by him or them... who would know?

Perhaps to prove them wrong, he’s thinking of teaching parents how to bring up their children, which is a handy distraction but would maybe make more sense had he not been supposed to be leading the way out of recession, into growth and getting parents back into work so they could pay the highest fees in Europe for child care 10-12 hours a day.

All of the above adds up to a plan of sorts. But you’ll notice, no doubt, that it’s one relying on everything, everywhere being somebody else’s fault. Either Labour’s or ours.

We are the opposition. We’re not working hard enough or long enough. Kids are wastrels because we’re lousy parents and we’re in the soup because we spent decades watching Jeremy Kyle all day, shopping extravagantly online with borrowed money and scrounged benefits.

And that’s the problem with modern politics. They’ve descended into an impossible blame game. All efforts are thrown into pointing and blaming, next to none into grasping and solving.

Whoever got us into this mess in the first place, isn’t it time all heads of whatever persuasion – even the beery ones – pooled the resources for which they were elected and worked together to bring us out of it?

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