Last week, a group of Tory MPs abandoned all that stuff about ‘hardworking families’ and branded this country Lazy Britain:
Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor.
It’s rubbish, of course. Fact Check pointed out that our full-timers work some of the longest hours in Europe and, even when you add in our relatively high number of part-time workers, we still work longer hours than the Germans. As for the productivity argument, Chris Dillow dealt with that, noting that there is a strong negative correlation between hours worked and productivity. Just working harder, then, won’t improve our economy and, in any case, shouldn’t we aspire to be more like the richer countries that work smarter, rather than the poorer ones that work longer?
The MPs who made these daft assertions are, apparently, part of the self-styled New Tory Right. Andy Beckett interviewed Dominic Raab, one of their leading lights, in the Guardian this week. I’m not sure what’s new about these New Tories because all I saw in the article and in Raab’s paper was the usual stuff about red-tape and freeing up the economy by getting rid of employment law.
I’ve done this to death on here but we know that Britain has some of the least onerous employment laws and one of the lowest levels of contested employment cases in the world. A lot of countries with more employment protection than the UK have more competitive economies. There is no evidence that employment law is holding the economy back.
But if all this is clearly so much rubbish, wonders Chris, why is Dominic Raab banging on about it.
I’m pretty sure, then, that Raab is talking rot. What I’m not so sure about is why. One possibility is that he’s so blinded by free market ideology and by romantic ideas about entrepreneurs and managers that he just cannot see that some free market reforms are of negligible benefit and that some bosses are less than heroic.
But you’d have thought that the experience of the crisis – which has seen bankers get multi-million bonuses whilst good workers lose their jobs – would have disabused anyone of the just world theory that capitalism rewards talent and effort. There’s comes a point when a cognitive bias shades into a psychiatric disorder.
It gets worse, though. Have a look at this:
The definition of fair dismissal should be widened, for example, to encompass inadequate performance which falls short of the current standard of inherent inability or neglectful incompetence, to allow greater scope for “no fault” dismissal for underperforming employees.
Of course, companies sack under-performing employees all the time. Good managers who follow a simple procedure have no problem doing so. I have spent considerable amounts of time and effort encouraging people to tackle performance problems and not to be scared of the law. It is disappointing, therefore to hear Mr Raab, a lawyer, come out with stuff like this. Darren Newman isn’t impressed either and has written to Mr Raab asking him to explain himself.
So here we have MPs we are told are the rising stars of the New Tory Right spouting the same old baseless rubbish. What’s new about that? I’m tempted to paraphrase an old song but that would just be too obvious wouldn’t it?