There is a popular observation – recounted by, amongst others, Jamie Oliver – that, when in the benefits-trap, the family television increases in size in accordance with claims of poverty.
Gripes I have with that include not remembering when I last saw a 14 ” set on sale, as well as my personal observations of such sets being that they are not necessarily the latest model: physically large, but presumably purchased second hand after someone in employment offloaded it in favour of a newer model. Alternatively, they could have been purchased when the current owners still were in employment or a gift from an employed relative.
You cannot eat a television; an attempt which would link to another of Oliver’s crass comments that, no matter how bad food poverty in this country may be, it is quantifiably better than other regions of the world (where people have a better attitude towards food, or so Oliver says). Again, it may be factually correct that, apart from falling prey to sadistic parents who purposefully withhold food from infant children, no-one in the country starves to death, but recipients of foodbanks are unlikely to view this as a small mercy.
In September, Oliver also attracted flak for dismissing the work ethnic of the domestic British workforce in contrast to the cohort of East/Central European staff he would appear to favour in his restaurant chains. At the time, James Bloodworth cogitated in the New Statesman that Oliver might be equating seeking to maximize his profits by expecting employees work upwards of 100 hours a week for relatively low returns in order with an ethical corporate practice: see also Gene’s recent piece on a Macdonald’s employee of ten years who had not received a pay rise.
To that I would add that East/Central European employees have the hope of returning to their home countries for a brief spell before burn-out from such work stresses occurs, whereas a domestic employee would either have to find a new job (difficult to search for when working 100 hours a week) or, if they wished to receive benefits, get sacked instead of leaving voluntarily. Another observation which occurs to me – and which neither Oliver nor Bloodworth appear to have acknowledged – is that Oliver is recruiting from a cohort which have shown the smeddum to travel to this country and contrasting them with all the domestic prospective workforce.
He cannot not employee any domestic workers, and cannot be disenchanted with all of them. If he were to recruit directly from jobcentres in Vilnius or Warsaw, I suspect he would not experience a 100% success rate.
(One point which Bloodworth definitely is out-of-step on is appropriating “pukka” in response to Oliver’s pronouncements. He has shied away from that word for as long as Nancy Salgado has not had a pay rise.)