I was a bit late walking the dog on Saturday morning; a combination of dark mornings and rain lashing the windows, along with the hum of the central heating pump – which suggested from under the comfort of the duvet that it was going to be a little on the chilly side outside. Not that it bothered me or the dog once outside, but a strong north wind and leaves all over the place is a reminder that times they are a changing.
St Mary on the Wold is one of those places that, on the surface at least, and certainly early in the morning, you can kid yourself is largely unchanged or untouched by events large and small; even the last few Covid months have not changed the village or the people very much. Few bothered to bang drums and clap the sky to save the NHS when it was the height of fashion in the summer, VE day came and went without too much interest apart from a couple of families having some sort of street party in Audi Avenue. The noise did create some comment in the more conservative areas of the community but that was about it. The school reopened without much comment and the local shops are still supporting – to their credit – home deliveries to the elderly or housebound and so on. There are lots of people still apparently ‘working from home’ as evidenced by the various prestige cars parked, unused for long periods, on the paved driveways of the more up-market homes in the community and that has caused some comment by others not on furlough who are either self-employed or work for small businesses and have, in some cases, worked all through these difficult times.
There are people residing here who received little or no assistance from the various schemes arranged by, it seems, the ever-in-favour Dishi Rishi, but those people tend to live in the less prosperous leafy lanes around the area and are apparently invisible to most people – including the local and national politicians. Presumably ‘little’ people not working for some third sector trust, or quango of the public sector are just, as we have learned to call them, ‘collateral damage’, the military language used by ministers and politicians most of whom have never experienced any form of military life or done anything more dangerous than enter a shop without wearing a mask.
The thing is, though, that the ‘collateral damage’ is starting, even if quite slowly, to realise that they have been taken for the proverbial village idiots and, not for the first time, taken for a ride. Small business owners in this area at least are struggling to adapt to changing circumstances. Not blessed with unlimited funds, they have done their best to keep their business ventures afloat, the local economy going and unemployment down, without, in the main, receiving any thanks from the political class, a class that seems to have trouble telling anyone the time of day, let alone helping the many people hit hardest, the people that ‘I can’t save everyone’s job’ Rishi Sunak proclaimed this week in a rare moment of government candour.
Talking to various people this week and looking at the comments made by ordinary people over the last few days, it would seem that even the well informed and Conservative voters and the Conservative-supporting press, along with Conservative blogs have, as we used to say, had more than enough of Boris, Hancock in particular and the cabinet in general. Odd then that polls show Boris is still in favour with a majority of the people polled. Goodness knows what the question was to garner such a vote of confidence. Perhaps it was a vote by working-from-home public sector workers, who knows? I certainly don’t, and people I have mentioned this to have reacted with words that one would certainly hesitate to reproduce in an article intended for publication in a responsible journal.
And that’s the word isn’t it – ‘responsible’. Who is responsible for this mess? Who is responsible for what is going on here? Middle England seems either to not know, have the slightest idea or – even worse – having been lied to, misled, and ignored for the last five years has decided it is not even worth caring about.
The words and actions of various ministers and MPs speaking in Parliament hardly engendered respect or confidence. The Speaker reprimanding the government for treating Parliament with contempt, the Health Minister answering a perfectly formed question by a fellow MP with a monosyllabic ‘No’ and, in the case of a polite question asked by another MP getting a totally rude and unacceptable refusal to answer. I wonder how, in his heyday, Dennis Skinner ‘the beast of Bolsover’ and now 88 years of age would have reacted.
That, then is the political class now, verging on arrogance, out of step with public opinion (except it seems within the inner circle of the M25 and Westminster bubble) and as far as many people can see, little or no idea on how to communicate policy or instructions that are affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. There are apparently 700,000 people now unemployed who have been told either to claim Universal Credit and/or retrain. To do what exactly? For what end and for what result? Where are the institutions situated which will have the capacity to retrain people in large numbers? More importantly where are the ‘trainers’ to come from? Does the department of education have a pool of presently unemployed, retired or working from home trainers just itching to up their own skills, to enable them to train unskilled or skilled workers from, say, the entertainment industry or the tourism and leisure industry to take, as I saw one suggestion, work in the construction and building industry.
One long-time director of a heating and plumbing concern well known to me, laughed that suggestion off. For a start he said, the building industry is not some sort of easy ride. It’s not for everyone, it’s dirty, hazardous work and sometimes, to use the modern idiom, ‘scary’. We’ve seen all this before. You don’t get too many builders and roofers aged over 45 for example. The electrical trades are seen by many as too technical so plumbers and heating engineers are very popular down at the job centre, probably because you can fall off a roof or scaffolding, cause an explosion working with gas, or cause instant death if you make a mistake with electricity. In fairness he said, tongue in cheek, it takes longer to cause a flood or drown yourself so it’s at least safer.
One just wonders what planet or universe is inhabited by the political class. One scientist suggested this week that there was another universe before the Big Bang. Perhaps that’s where these people get their ideas. One wonders what a chef or airline pilot should retrain as, and, when retrained, where a job will come from? The guy who delivered our supermarket order this week was, in ‘normal times’ the first officer flying usually for a major airline. A friend knows of an airline captain who is debating his future. I’ve got news for you guys, as it stands at the moment, you have very little professional future.
Part 2 of Motivation or subjugation will be
published here tomorrow.