Instant Opinion

‘The UK has become culturally work-shy’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press


Jeremy Warner in The Telegraph

It’ll take more than higher pay to get work-shy Britain working

on absent natives

“Whisper it, for fear of causing offence, but we have a culturally work-shy labour force that has grown used to migrants filling the jobs that indigenous Brits don’t want to do,” believes Jeremy Warner. Writing for The Telegraph, he explains that the UK enjoys record numbers of staff vacancies, resulting in “plenty of competition for workers, and in many cases steep increases in wages”. However, he continues, “if we look at the underlying reasons for these shortages, they have as much to do with natives absenting themselves from the workforce as the deterrent effect of Britain’s new immigration policies”. He says the hospitality sector is in particular trouble. “I’m going to get myself into a lot of trouble for saying this,” he says, “but Brits do not on the whole like working unsocial hours, including evenings and weekends.” He forecasts that wages will eventually rise but that will mean higher prices, putting many mid-range establishments out of business. So, he concludes, “we’ll just have to get used to higher prices, less choice, and for many of us, doing the sort of jobs we’ve been turning our noses up at”.


The Independent editorial

Journalists are being targeted by the likes of Tommy Robinson – but we will never be silenced

on an unusual case

“The five-year ‘stalking order’ passed down by the courts against Tommy Robinson, the co-founder of the English Defence League, is an unusually long one,” concedes an editorial in The Independent. “Then again, Robinson has an unusually long record of breaking the law and attempting to intimidate The Independent’s home affairs and security correspondent, Lizzie Dearden,” it adds. After the far-right leader was sentenced for stalking the journalist, Dearden’s paper says the punishment “still allows Robinson complete freedom to exercise his right to speech and respond to any media reports or criticism of him”. He may not have understood before that the expression ‘right to reply’ “does not equate to turning up on a reporter’s doorstep at 10pm and yelling through the intercom”, it continues, but “perhaps he does now”.


Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian

GPs have become the new fall guys for government failures

on a worrying warpath

Someone recently arrived at Gaby Hinsliff’s local surgery for a routine non-urgent test “maskless, coughing and with a temperature”. She explains that, “despite the risk of infecting the whole building, they had still been startled to be sent home”. The “nervous arm’s-length handling of patients… exists for good reason”, she adds, as the “Tory press” goes “on the warpath” against GPs. “People will always seek more from their NHS” but “whenever a gap yawns between aspiration and reality, it’s tempting for politicians just to spray the blame around, even if that risks tarnishing people who have risked their working lives on the Covid frontline.” She concludes that, “given the daunting challenge now facing the NHS as it struggles to get waiting lists down”, Health Secretary Sajid Javid “may well need to push health professionals far from their comfort zones in the coming months”.


Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times

Do I really have to watch Squid Game?

on ignoring the zeitgeist

“Apparently I need to watch Squid Game. It is one of those zeitgeist things you have to watch to be part of THE CONVERSATION,” writes Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times of the hit Korean show streaming on Netflix. And while “I do not like the idea that I may not be part of THE CONVERSATION”, the show is essentially a “snuff series” which “takes on the veneer of an emotional class critique of economic plight within capitalist society but with added throat slashing”. “This then is the dilemma,” says Shrimsley: “cultural relevance or contented ignorance”. And although the show is “allegedly a biting commentary on capitalist society”, Shrimsley writes, “I can’t help noticing that there are no democratic capitalist societies actually staging murderous games for the enjoyment of viewers.”


James Forsyth in The Times

Face it Boris Johnson, you’re not in control

on outside forces

“The phrase ‘take back control’ was perhaps the most potent weapon Boris Johnson deployed during the EU referendum,” writes James Forsyth in The Times. “Three factors will play a huge role in determining what the next few months will be like: inflation, energy shortages and geopolitical tensions,” he continues. But “Johnson has little to no control over any of these forces”, something he is “loath to admit”. Cabinet ministers are worried over Johnson’s claims that supply shortages are “part of his transition to a high-wage economy”, a claim which “suggests the government has far more control over events than it actually does”. ”What if the pain is not transitory, but longer-lasting? What if (as many economists suggest) there are no worker shortages in most of the economy – so no real pay rises to follow?” Forsyth concludes: “For good or ill, much of the country’s fate is out of Johnson’s control.”


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