It is an airless, lazy day in mid-August. The House of Commons cafe is half-deserted. But Raab, firm-jawed, slightly gaunt and a rising star of the Tory right, is spending the parliamentary recess in the traditional manner of ambitious politicians: using the Westminster news vacuum to attract attention to himself and his ideas. Wearing jeans, the year-old backbencher is talking — warily — about transforming the British workplace.
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Sadly, so far the reaction to the book has proved their point. Job done. They have joined the political version of celebrity culture — the same culture that they argue, to some extent compellingly, makes Britons believe they can get on without doing any hard work. By February , 5. At over 13 per cent of the working population, this is one of the highest proportions in the OECD.
Where do I start? No footnote in a book that contains several hundred, most to newspaper articles. Does it include disability living allowance and housing benefit both of which can be claimed by workers? I think the former but not the latter. Grown since when? It certainly grew rapidly in the s and early s but the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits fell steadily from its peak in until the crisis and, despite the recession, is still well below the levels of the mids.
So the drama is less than compelling. Nor do they succumb to the easy pessimism that is currently prevalent among commentators and, sadly, too many economists that we are doomed to no or slow growth or that our children will be worse off than we are. As a consequence, many of the broad implications of their arguments, at both macro and micro levels, are entirely sensible.
Our children need to understand that they are unlikely to make it as pop singers or footballers but that if they study and work hard they have an excellent chance of succeeding. At a national level, policymakers need to be more ambitious, take more chances, encourage innovation and risk failure. Unfortunately, as a result of the sloppiness of both the research and the writing, the authors fail to translate this into concrete policy recommendations.
To take one example, it is a clear implication of many of the arguments they make — that we should be open to new ideas; promote competition and innovation; reduce unnecessary red tape, especially in the labour market — that the UK should be more open to immigration, especially skilled immigration. This would not be a panacea but it would certainly help. Now the government they support is moving in precisely the opposite direction, in a manner likely to do considerable economic damage — and yet immigration policy is not even mentioned.
They are courageous enough to insult the work ethic of the British labour force, apparently, but not brave enough to confront the shibboleths of their party. That is a pity. Doing evidence-based policy analysis and turning it into credible policy recommendations is neither quick nor easy.
You need to be prepared to trawl through the data, work out what it means, translate that into something that policymakers can understand and help them think through the potential policy implications.
British workers 'among worst idlers', suggest Tory MPs
Voodoogrel My 14 requests for the new year Rod Liddle. There are two basic approaches to explaining the nature of the current crisis which besets national economies across the world. Not a scrap of evidence is offered in support of this contention, but never mind, the authors have heard of a chap out in Israel who has invented a new type of bandage and he put all his life savings into making a viable business into making the things. A member of the Conservative Party, he has served as a member of parliament MP sincerepresenting the constituency of Spelthorne in Surrey. Tactically, in the short term he might survive; but in the medium term he is toast.
Want to know what a Boris Johnson government would look like? I have just the book
Some of the text was so provocative that it read like trolling. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music. They advised fellow Conservatives to double down on austerity, and maintain their faith in old-fashioned laissez-faire economics. All five of the Britannia Unchained gang are now supporters of Boris Johnson. Of a piece, of course, was his brilliantly timed move last week, when news that obesity was now rivalling smoking as a cause of cancer coincided with his hostile manoeuvrings on the so-called sugar tax.
Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music. Though Britannia Unchained did not advocate EU withdrawal, it exemplified the spirit that would later animate Brexit. Whether or not Johnson has read the treatise, its influence on his new cabinet is marked. Two of the co-authors, Patel and Raab, now hold two of the great offices of state the Home Office and the Foreign Office.