A Gresham’s Law for the Commentariat of our Clickbait Business Model Age …

Standard

Gresham’s Law of the Commentariat.

A bad opinion writer who is able to produce click bait to order and who is not fussed about nuance or the need for research, drives out the good comment writer, who puts real effort and thought into writing an article.

Oft the good writer goes to the bad in order to make a living.

Johnson’s National Flagship will be promoting an economy mired in “chronic British short-termism, inadequate management … a culture of easy gratification and under-investment in both human and physical capital and infrastructure.”

Standard

Back in the early 1980s (or so I was told):

“Hello, Mr British Shipbuilder, we would like you to build us a supertanker.”

“I’m, sorry, I don’t build supertankers, but I will build you two ships amounting together to the tonnage you are after.”

“Hello, Mr South Korean Shipbuilder, we would like you to build us a supertanker.”

“How big?”

I am afraid it is too easy to blame the collapse of, for example, shipbuilding on Thatcher and/or the trades unions when they were bit players in comparison with the managers and owners of and investors in UK manufacturing.

There is even some evidence that certain UK shipyards back then took a rather cavalier attitude towards Government contracts, because they were confident the Government had no choice, but to buy British.

Back in 2013, Boris Johnson said that leaving the EU would not address “chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills, a culture of easy gratification and under-investment in both human and physical capital and infrastructure.”

We did not need to leave the EU to address those issues, but on leaving the EU, we are not yet addressing those issues and there is no definite evidence that the Government is planning to do so.

But then, may be now Johnson is Prime Minister those issues are of little matter as is evidenced by the ability of the PM to focus on trivia like a national flagship?

If not, then the national flagship would be promoting an economy mired in “chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills, a culture of easy gratification and under-investment in both human and physical capital and infrastructure.”

No, that cannot be right, not with Captain Boris Johnson at the helm of the HBS Free(loading) Enterprise.

“Well, Palmer, what are we going to do about the post Brexit brain and investment drain?” “Talk to Shite Hawk and the Oven Ready Bird, Sir?” “That’s no way to talk about the PM and Lord Frost, Palmer.”

Standard
The Ipcress File wherein Harry Palmer liaised with agents codenamed Bluejay and Housemartin for the return of a kidnapped British scientist, Dr Radcliffe

The UK outside of the Single Market is clearly not an attractive location within which to site Vodafone’s new European Research and Development facility (see below).

Much is made of the end of Freedom of Movement making it harder to import labour into the UK whether we are talking about an HGV driver or a veterinarian.

The same difficulty arises with assembling teams, drawn from across Europe, for research and development.

Why would, for example, a hi-tech company locate themselves in the UK and restrict themselves to the talent pool of a single country when in the Single Market they may trawl a sea of 31 countries?

And if you are a talented individual in the UK looking for a job in research then the opportunities are going to be greater and more varied in the Single Market.

The brain drain much dramatised in fiction and talked about in reality in the 1960s is back in 2021.

And where brains go so did production in 1963 …

And in 2021, Pat Gelsinger, the boss of Intel told the BBC that the US chipmaker is no longer considering building a factory in the UK because of Brexit. He said that before the UK left the European Union, the country “would have been a site that we would have considered”.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is colman-deegan-vodafone-spain-kacb-u140519916894gnf-575x32340surinenglish.jpg
Against stiff competition in a beauty contest with seven other cities in five countries, none in the United Kingdom, the British telecommunications giant, Vodafone has chosen to create 600 jobs in Malaga, Spain with a new European Research and Development hub

“Vodafone has chosen Malaga as the home for its European research and development centre for new technological solutions and next generation digital services, which will lead to the creation of more than 600 jobs on the Costa del Sol.

The British telecommunications giant had organised an international competition between January and March to decide in which European city it would establish its new R&D centre.

Seven cities from five European countries participated in the contest, and they had to respond to an extensive questionnaire that focused on lifestyle, the availability of talent with the necessary technical skills, working conditions, transport systems, public aid and grants, university connections and the attractiveness of each location to job-seekers.

After an exhaustive analysis of the candidate cities and multiple meetings with international companies active in these cities, Vodafone selected Malaga as the host of its new ‘hub’.

“The Andalusian city was the one that stood out in the competition for being the one that offers the best combination of all the selection criteria,” the company pointed out.

Colman Deegan, CEO of Vodafone España, said: “This European Vodafone Business Centre is a great opportunity for the city of Malaga, not only because of the highly qualified employment it will generate, but also because it will enhance the activity of the city and the digital ecosystem that has been developed in recent years. The Vodafone hub will help Spain and Malaga continue to be a national and international benchmark in attracting and promoting business projects and creating products and services based on innovation and new technologies.”

Both the president of the Junta de Andalucía and the mayor of Malaga have been quick to comment on the good news for the city, which can boast of being on a roll when it comes to attracting technological investments. Google, Dekra, TDK and Globant have recently announced new research and development centres in the city.

The Junta’s head, Juanma Moreno, tweeted “Great news! Malaga will host the Vodafone European R&D Centre of Excellence. I have spoken to their CEO Colman Deegan, and they will create 600 highly skilled jobs. Thanks for the confidence!”

Malaga’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, also celebrated Vodafone’s commitment to the city, which in the midst of the pandemic “once again it shows that Malaga’s innovative ecosystem is capable of continuing to attract investment and talent.” “

Vodafone to create 600 jobs on the Costa with a new European R&D hub

It would seem that the good, high skilled, well paid jobs that both Starmer and Johnson prattle on about creating and for which they feel you should not have to leave your home town to take up are not necessarily going to be within an easy commute from somewhere like Hartlepool or Chesham and Amersham.

How Freedom of Movement defused the UK’s demographic time bomb

Starmer and Johnson prattle on about creating good, high skilled jobs you wouldn’t have to leave your home town to get …

Standard
Against stiff competition in a beauty contest with seven other cities in five countries, none in the United Kingdom, the British telecommunications giant, Vodafone has chosen to create 600 jobs in Malaga, Spain with a new European Research and Development hub

The UK outside of the Single Market is clearly not an attractive location within which to site Vodafone’s new European Research and Development facility.

Much is made of the end of Freedom of Movement making it harder to import labour into the UK whether we are talking about an HGV driver or a veterinarian.

The same difficulty arises with assembling teams, drawn from across Europe, for research and development.

Why would, for example, a hi-tech company locate themselves in the UK and restrict themselves to the talent pool of a single country when in the Single Market they may trawl a sea of 31 countries?

And if you are a talented individual in the UK looking for a job in research then the opportunities are going to be greater and more varied in the Single Market.

The brain drain much dramatised in fiction and talked about in reality in the 1960s is back in 2021.

The Ipcress File

And where brains go so did production in 1963 …

And in 2021, Pat Gelsinger, the boss of Intel told the BBC that the US chipmaker is no longer considering building a factory in the UK because of Brexit. He said that before the UK left the European Union, the country “would have been a site that we would have considered”.

Vodafone to create 600 jobs on the Costa with a new European R&D hub

“Vodafone has chosen Malaga as the home for its European research and development centre for new technological solutions and next generation digital services, which will lead to the creation of more than 600 jobs on the Costa del Sol.

The British telecommunications giant had organised an international competition between January and March to decide in which European city it would establish its new R&D centre.

Seven cities from five European countries participated in the contest, and they had to respond to an extensive questionnaire that focused on lifestyle, the availability of talent with the necessary technical skills, working conditions, transport systems, public aid and grants, university connections and the attractiveness of each location to job-seekers.

After an exhaustive analysis of the candidate cities and multiple meetings with international companies active in these cities, Vodafone selected Malaga as the host of its new ‘hub’.

“The Andalusian city was the one that stood out in the competition for being the one that offers the best combination of all the selection criteria,” the company pointed out.

Colman Deegan, CEO of Vodafone España, said: “This European Vodafone Business Centre is a great opportunity for the city of Malaga, not only because of the highly qualified employment it will generate, but also because it will enhance the activity of the city and the digital ecosystem that has been developed in recent years. The Vodafone hub will help Spain and Malaga continue to be a national and international benchmark in attracting and promoting business projects and creating products and services based on innovation and new technologies.”

Both the president of the Junta de Andalucía and the mayor of Malaga have been quick to comment on the good news for the city, which can boast of being on a roll when it comes to attracting technological investments. Google, Dekra, TDK and Globant have recently announced new research and development centres in the city.

The Junta’s head, Juanma Moreno, tweeted “Great news! Malaga will host the Vodafone European R&D Centre of Excellence. I have spoken to their CEO Colman Deegan, and they will create 600 highly skilled jobs. Thanks for the confidence!”

Malaga’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, also celebrated Vodafone’s commitment to the city, which in the midst of the pandemic “once again it shows that Malaga’s innovative ecosystem is capable of continuing to attract investment and talent.” “

Growing our own domestic work force or how Freedom of Movement defused the UK’s demographic time bomb, but Johnson’s Hard #Brexit, endorsed by Starmer’s Labour has armed and exploded it …

Standard
King Aeëtes of Colchis sows the Hydra’s teeth and prays to the goddess Hecate.

Seven armed skeletons, the “children of the Hydra’s teeth”, emerge from the ground to battle Jason and the Argonauts.

The growing labour and skill shortages across the economy of the United Kingdom are fundamentally down to the explosion of the UK’s demographic time bomb.

The UK has an ageing population with an ageing, shrinking, domestic workforce with, just as importantly, an ageing, shrinking, domestic business owning class.

More people are retiring from the UK labour market at one end than are entering it at the other.

Freedom of Movement mostly defused the UK’s demographic time bomb.

Boris Johnson’s Hard Brexit, freely endorsed by Keir Starmer’s Labour, armed the bomb and it has now exploded.

Over a decade ago, civil servants as lowly as Executive Officers in the Department for Work and Pensions, like myself, were briefing Jobcentre colleagues and external partners across the country about the consequences for the UK labour market of the bomb exploding.

We spoke in Birmingham and Solihull of matters like recruitment, retention, returners and (mid life) career switchers in the context of an ageing workforce.

We had a particular interest in encouraging men to consider a career in childcare wherein back then only 2% of employees were male.

We contrasted that figure with the 8% of Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers who were female.

As an aside, one of the chaps working in childcare in Birmingham had lost his job at Rover in 2005. And he was much happier in his new career than he had ever been in any previous job in his life.

When he had left school, men from his class background were expected to go to work in a factory and, in his case get a job on the track at a car plant.

Just over 12 years ago, as a DWP official, I sat in a meeting at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here in Birmingham with colleagues and National Health Service Human Resources staff.

We were told by one of the NHS staff present that nationally they had estimated they would need to recruit one in two of all school leavers at 16 just to maintain their head count.

Today, we have 100,000 unfilled vacancies in the NHS.

I am inclined to snigger when a Johnson or a Starmer talks about not just filling those vacancies, but expanding the total number of staff employed in health and social care in the UK.

A pledge made by Keir Starmer at the Labour Party‘s 2021 National Conference

You cannot train up, say, a UK based HGV driver workforce in the longer term (in competition, by the way, with every other sector of UK economy facing growing labour and skill shortages) when the people you want to train up in UK were not born in UK 20, 30, 40 … years ago.

The most significant short, medium and long term answer to the UK’s labour and skill shortage problems, but not the only one, was and remains foreign born labour to substitute for the native-born workers who were never born.

Alternatively, the population of the UK accepts a poorer standard of living for the foreseeable future.

“Priti Patel said she wanted to borrow the TARDIS and send a handpicked army of procreators into the UK’s past, 20, 30, 40 … years ago to procreate like crazy to address the UK’s demographic time bomb at source.”

“And?”

“Well, naturally I refused and then …”

Unsurprisingly, this was an aspect of Brexit that the Leave Campaign avoided mentioning during their campaign in 2016, although I guess cakeism sort of covered it then and up until last December.

Boris Johnson writing in the Sunday Telegraph the weekend after the Referendum vote

We were once promised all the benefits of the Single Market, even when we were out of the club.

Freedom of Movement in a labour market made up of 32 states now 31, with us outside, worked to mostly defuse the UK’s demographic time bomb.

Ending Freedom of Movement mostly created the labour and skill shortages the UK economy is now facing.

There was a straw in the wind as to what might happen.

Despite Farage’s, McCluskey’s and Corbyn’s claims to the contrary, Eastern European building workers did not drive down pay, terms and conditions in UK construction.

The ‘British builder’ portrayed in the ukip poster, begging on the street and accusing EU workers of taking UK jobs, was actually an Irish actor, called Dave O’Rourke from Dublin.

O’Rourke had been resident in the UK for at least ten years before posing for the poster in 2014.

Were all the British brickies on site and so too busy to take an acting job for a few hours?

According to Markit monthly industry surveys as far back as mid 2017, even with migrants in the mix (cue groan at niche pun) the demand for labour in UK construction was exceeding its supply, forcing employers to raise pay, terms and conditions as they competed for scarce labour and skills.

Yet, in 2021, Starmer and Johnson talk about building back better or similar.

From where will they recruit sufficient bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, labourers, carpenters, plasterers, surveyors, architects … and HGV drivers to try to make their visions a reality?

The labour market problem is decades old.

The key policy solution was migration and, courtesy of the Single Market a relatively hassle free process of moving between countries for work and to set up or take over an existing business.

The negative consequences of a Hard Brexit and, specifically, the end of Freedom of Movement on business formation and ownership in the UK has yet to really surface in the debate.

Some UK businesses are seeing a downturn in sales revenue as completing the paperwork required of a company based in a third country, trading with customers in the Single Market takes time away from making money.

Others companies may well close, because a business model designed for being in the Single Market and Customs Union may not be adapted to the new reality of being outside of both.

And, courtesy of the demographic time bomb, some businesses will cease trading, because their ageing and/or infirm owners cannot be asked to bother with dealing with all the new forms etc, particularly after having had to cope with the stress of preparing for two No Deal Brexits and coping with Covid.

It is a fairly standard storyline in Endeavour or Midsomer Murders, the older generation bemoaning that their offspring are not interested in taking over the family business.

In 2021, it is not unusual to find that those offspring were never born.

And in 2021, there are also fewer migrants to whom one might sell one’s firm than was the case a few years ago.

Freedom of Movement provided migrants who were able to buy businesses off UK company owners, retiring from business for one reason or another. Migrants also set up new businesses in the UK.

How many migrants who set up new enterprises or bought existing ones in the UK, courtesy of Freedom of Movement, will now remain in the UK and, if they decide to leave to whom will they sell their businesses?

Some businesses are taking on new staff to handle the paperwork required to continue trading with customers in the Single Market. These jobs are unremunerative in that they have been created to just try and maintain sales not increase them.  They eat into the bottom line, reducing a company’s profits.

The key stakeholders back in the 2000s knew that migration was the most significant answer to the demographic time bomb and still do.

However, I do detect a degree of panic, even a few displays of cognitive dissonance, amongst some informed people as to the consequences of admitting where things are going whilst Priti Patel remains Home Secretary.

Her unique selling point in any future Tory leadership race in which she may choose to take part will be her stance on (im)migration.

The obvious and only major practical policy solution has to be a replication of Freedom of Movement and, in particular, the ability to put down roots in the UK so as to live and work here and not just be treated as unwelcome, but necessary guest workers, brought in as and when with Cinderella style work visas.

The approach the Government is adopting towards issuing emergency three month visas will only make working in the UK attractive to the desperate for work; the not especially competent and those unaware of the toxic environment that has been created in the UK since 2016 not just for migrants and immigrants, but BAME folk born and brought up here, too.

Beggars, of course, cannot be choosers so recruitment standards may have to drop, if all the visas the Government is planning to make available are to be used by employers between now and midnight on 24th December.

Patel will not wear any resurrection of Freedom of Movement and neither will Labour, according to Rachel Reeves, who, incidentally has crafted in her policy of buy, make and sell more in Britain (to boost British exports!) a wheeze almost guaranteed, if enacted to drive a further wedge between the UK and the EU as well as antagonise the USA and most other trading nations around the world.

When will the dictatorship of the dwindling number of hardcore Leave voting, Britain (really England) First fanatics end, given it has to date, survived two General Elections since 2016?

When will Conservative and Labour politicians speak truth unto what now amounts in 2021 to a minority of the electorate?

Priti Patel wants us to grow her a work force?”

“Yes, Orlando.”

“Well, we’ve got plenty of material for the basic Raab model, my dear.”

“No, Orlando, she wants workers able to walk, talk, and, well, work competently and put their backs into it.”

“Oh, I see …”

Keir Starmer’s Ten Commandments Critiqued …

Standard
Each of us in society, giving according to both our abilities and means and receiving according to our needs.

“During the train journeys on his summer tour through Blackpool, Swindon and Glasgow, Sir Keir Starmer began jotting down notes about what he heard from voters and his own thoughts about politics.

With help from aides, he turned these into a 13,000-word essay that seeks to set the foundations of his leadership, before his first in-person speech to a Labour conference next week.

The thesis, published by the Fabian Society, specifies ten broad principles that Starmer says would drive his government, ranging from putting “hard-working families and their priorities first” to “restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life”.”

Keir Starmer’s ten commandments get short shrift from Labour

“Our country is now at a crossroads. Down one path is the same old insecurity and lack of opportunity. But down the Labour one is something better: a society built on everyone’s contribution, with high-quality services, security and opportunity.

In this pamphlet, Labour leader Keir Starmer MP sets out his vision of a fairer, more secure and prosperous Britain, built on Labour values. He proposes 10 principles for a new contract between Labour and the British people, which together make up an ambitious plan to remake our country.”

The Ten Commandments

1. We will always put hard-working families and their priorities first.

Why?

What is a hard-working family in 2021?

For example, in the United Kingdom in 2020, it was estimated that 7,898,000 lived in one person households out of the total number of households of 27,792,000.

Early in 2021, Starmer gave a speech on family values, a few hours later, a staffer was sent out to say he had not just meant Mom and Dad, whose marriage had been consecrated in church, and the 2.4 children.

This Commandment needs rethinking from first principles.

Piers Corbyn

There are nearly 11,989,322 people aged 65 and above in the UK …

Piers and Jeremy Corbyn shoot the breeze

of which:

  • 5.4 million people are aged 75 and over
  • 1.6 million are aged 85 and over
  • 579,776 people are 90 and over
  • 14,430 are centenarians.

Later Life in the United Kingdom in 2019

“A third of the Tory vote is over the age of 65. Given we’re an ageing country, we simply cannot win unless we improve this position.”

“Thirty five of the seats where the Tory majority over Labour is under 7,000 have a higher than average number of pensioners. Winning back at least a portion of the ‘silver vote’ is mission critical to winning an election and aiming at 45%.”

Five lessons from the race for the West Midlands

0/10

2. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly.

Fine, but what if, for some reason or another, for example, disability or ill fortune, you are not able to work as hard as you would like?

6/10

3. People and businesses are expected to contribute to society, as well as receive.

10/10

4. Your chances in life should not be decided by the circumstances of your birth – hard work and how you contribute should matter.

Unfortunately, the circumstances of your birth do affect your chances in life well before you get the opportunity to go out to work and contribute to society.

Sure Start is designed to try and address the fact that many children born into relative poverty lose the chance to exploit their full potential even before they reach the age of 5.

4/10

5. Families, communities and things that bring us together must once again be put before individualism.

I take it that in the opinion of some of Labour’s focus group members that something has gone wrong somewhere?

Personally, I ‘blame’ the 1960s (as does Farage).

“Fings ain’t what they used to be …”

Dragooning people into doing things communally, particularly through peer pressure, is rather unBritish.

“But here it is worth noting a minor English trait which is extremely well marked though not often commented on, and that is a love of flowers. This is one of the first things that one notices when one reaches England from abroad, especially if one is coming from southern Europe. Does it not contradict the English indifference to the arts? Not really, because it is found in people who have no aesthetic feelings whatever …”

Corbyn down on his beloved allotment, if only he had never strayed from there

“What it does link up with, however, is another English characteristic which is so much a part of us that we barely notice it, and that is the addiction to hobbies and spare-time occupations, the privateness of English life. We are a nation of flower-lovers, but also a nation of stamp-collectors, pigeon-fanciers, amateur carpenters, coupon-snippers, darts-players, crossword-puzzle fans. All the culture that is most truly native centres round things which even when they are communal are not official – the pub, the football match, the back garden, the fireside and the ‘nice cup of tea’. The liberty of the individual is still believed in, almost as in the nineteenth century. But this has nothing to do with economic liberty, the right to exploit others for profit. It is the liberty to have a home of your own, to do what you like in your spare time, to choose your own amusements instead of having them chosen for you from above. The most hateful of all names in an English ear is Nosey Parker. It is obvious, of course, that even this purely private liberty is a lost cause. Like all other modern people, the English are in process of being numbered, labelled, conscripted, ‘co-ordinated’. But the pull of their impulses is in the other direction, and the kind of regimentation that can be imposed on them will be modified in consequence. No party rallies, no Youth Movements, no coloured shirts, no Jew-baiting or ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations. No Gestapo either, in all probability.”

The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, George Orwell, 1941

This Commandment needs serious work or dropping completely.

0/10

6. The economy should work for citizens and communities. It is not good enough to surrender to market forces.

The second sentence is suitably vague. It might even extend to nationalisation where appropriate.

10/10

7. The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise, not stifle it.

There is precious little evidence that Labour is consulting with businesses or even understands business as Rachel Reeves buy, make and sell more in Britain (to boost British exports!) policy illustrates.

Currently, the Preston Model writ large is the central plank of the economic policies on which Labour plans to fight the next General Election.

The policy alone makes Labour unfit to govern.

Starmer, like Corbyn before him, ignores the important role that the voluntary and community sector plays in both our society and our economy.

VCS deserves a separate mention here and, arguably, in the 3rd and 6th Commandments, too.

Trades unions are voluntary organisations and the Labour Party came out of VCS organisations, including the Methodist Church.

0/10

8. The government should treat taxpayer money as its own. The current levels of waste are unacceptable.

The public sector treating taxpayer money as its own is usually the attitude to which many voters actually object!

One voter’s waste is another voter’s essential spending.

For some voters, almost all public spending is wasteful.

“The government should never forget the taxpayer funds public services and that taxpayer money should always be spent wisely and with the aim of seeking value for money.”

0/10

9. The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life.

10/10

10. We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism.

Is someone displaying pride, in say, their English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh identity being patriotic or nationalistic?

UK is made up of four nations, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Are we coming close to Tebbit’s cricket test?

I understand the desire to reject jingoism, in all its forms, which by its very nature, is exclusive, divisive and unwelcoming, but there are surely better ways to phrase it than that which has been chosen.

“… patriotism matters, but I’m afraid we don’t get to define its basics. These are: pride in our country; support for the armed forces; being strong on law and order. The progressive view of patriotism will never be the same as the conservative one. We will add an emphasis on values of tolerance, equality and a commitment to social justice. But the basics can’t be absent.”

Labour’s task is not to make itself feel better – it’s to win power

Labour needs to hold and win seats in Scotland and Wales to at least have a chance of depriving the Conservatives of an overall majority at the next General Election.

And it may well need the support in the House of Commons of Members of Parliament elected in Northern Ireland.

5/10

These ten principles should never have seen the light of day before they were put into easily accessible, unambiguous language.

The sort of language in which the Labour Party’s 1945 General Election Manifesto is set out in a mere 4,964 words!

One only has to have a reading age of seven to read The Sun.

The people who edit the newspaper, however, have an amazing capacity to put across complex issues in language that does not patronise its readers.

The Ten Commandments, overall.

45/100

Corbyn is a rather joyless, pious individual, almost wholly lacking in joie de vivre.

Aneurin Bevan once observed, “Righteous people terrify me … Virtue is its own punishment.”

Starmer’s little list is not exactly uplifting in the context of the cheeky chappy who currently leads the Conservative Party.

Boris Johnson just hanging around

All work and no play makes Keir a dull boy (or a mail order clothes catalogue model).

If all else fails, Starmer may always go and work for Grattan’s Catalogue

Let Starmer be Starmer and God help us all, if he really is as boring and uninteresting as his essay would suggest.

Yet, a sober suited, hard working, serious Knight of the Realm, a loving father and husband should appeal to the One Nation Conservatives and other voters whom Johnson repels with his very character (or lack of it).

In fact, the Liberal Democrats say they won the Chesham and Amersham by election, an Orpington style victory as a result of One Nation Conservatives and small business people defecting to them, primarily because of Johnson and Brexit.

Labour, meanwhile, had the worst by-election result in the party’s history, with 622 votes.

Off to the seaside …

Why, though, the need for Starmer to step off the train in Brighton, Ten Commandments in hand, when Labour already has Clause IV, agreed democratically by the party’s membership?

Take it away, Tony …

“The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

Starmer the Best Damned Fax Machine Salesman in Known Universe, Marjorie?

“Priti Patel said she wanted to borrow the TARDIS and send a handpicked army of procreators into the UK’s past, 20, 30, 40 … years ago to procreate like crazy to address the UK’s demographic time bomb at source.” “Well?” “I refused, naturally …”

Standard

“Priti Patel said she wanted to borrow the TARDIS and send a handpicked army of procreators into the UK’s past, 20, 30, 40 … years ago to procreate like crazy to address the UK’s demographic time bomb at source.”

“Well?”

“I refused, naturally …”

The UK labour market is an abstract concept and not a single, unitary labour market. Discuss …

Standard

The United Kingdom’s labour market as a single, unitary labour market is an abstract concept, but, if you accept that it is not then it is possible to write an article like this one by Torsten Bell, an ex Treasury civil servant and, currently, the Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation.

The problem is that employers and jobseekers do not exist in that abstract concept. The UK labour market is composed of myriad, overlapping labour markets defined by occupation, industry sector, geography …

It is a messy world out there beyond the walls of Her Majesty’s Treasury and sundry think tanks. And there is, dear reader, precious little order in the chaos, seen from where most of us see the world of business and work, up close and personal.

Let me try and illustrate what I mean.

Let us take two people in Plymouth, both in secure employment, well qualified and experienced, but looking to move on to another job in the same line of work.

The one is a part time carer and the other a type flight surgeon with no commitments.

The geographical labour market for the carer is Plymouth and its immediate environs whilst that for the surgeon may extend as far as anywhere in the world where their skills will be welcome.

Now, imagine all the people in work in the UK and looking for work lumped together. That is what folk are talking about when they speak of the UK labour market.

I am reminded of chaps in the City who used to appear on the BBC News after a torrid day on the Stock Exchange, talking about the activity being a necessary correction.

The stock market on a daily basis is made up of numerous trades of stocks and shares, almost all pre-owned by the way.

Who was making this correction and why was it necessary?

Order must be asserted to exist in chaos or else one’s remuneration might go down. Whatever you do, do not let the punters know that X shares may have shot through the roof on Friday afternoon, because Jocasta got a good feeling about the company after an excellent lunch and in anticipation of a ripping good weekend.

They might start wondering, if they would be better off toddling off to Le Touquet and putting it all on black 10.

The UK labour market as an aggregation of all the labour markets within the UK is a nonsense for practical purposes.

As a consequence of taking that view, one may challenge Bell’s assertion that firms are finding it impossible to hire staff.

And recruiting the right person for a job takes a lot longer than taking someone’s order; making them a meal and washing up afterwards.

It is perfectly possible for employers to be hiring staff whilst others are finding it virtually impossible to fill their vacancies. The two statements are not mutually exclusive.

Most employers, by and large, are not good at recruitment, because it is a task they rarely undertake. The larger the employer, however, the more likely they are to have access to professional help in house or at least the resources to buy it in from a reputable company.

Let us look at the issue from another angle.

89.6% of all companies in the UK employ nine staff or fewer.

If you normally employ nine and you have a vacancy that is proving hard to fill then you are short 11% of your work force. Should that situation persist you may lose revenue and possibly run the risk of going out of business.

Harold Wilson once said that to the unemployed person, unemployment is 100%.

There is a chance that the vacancy may disappear, but not because it has been filled. An employer may take stock of the situation and decide that Fred who retired from the full time job was coasting just before retirement.

May be he does not need replacing, if you divide the job up amongst the existing work force or, perhaps, you only need some one part time, may be even only now and then.

This is a very thorough piece of work establishing the labour availability issues of the UK Food and Drink Sector and it very much emphasises the point of this post.

One of the problems with discussing the UK’s labour market and its sub markets is a paucity of data.

Back in the day, when Jobcentres had a role in bringing jobseekers, employed, unemployed and the economically inactive, together with employers the Office of National Statistics had access to information about around 40% of the jobs being advertised at any one time alongside that obtainable from employment agencies and other similar sources.

The last Jobcentre data that ONS accepted on jobs notified to Jobcentres was back in November 2012.

The job data supplied by employment agencies has to be considered in the light of the fact that they are profit making companies. The same goes for the press releases that get agency representatives beaming out of your TV during a breakfast time show.

They have a vested interest in presenting their business, if not their industry in a good light.

One was aware (and I am sure they do not do it today) of agencies advertising honeypot vacancies to draw in job applicants to add to their registers. The size and quality of which they then cite to employers as to why they should place their business with them.

I had more than one conversation with a jobseeker saying that the too good to be true job had always just gone when they rang up, but the agency would be happy to add them to their books.

To confuse matters more, employers may advertise a permanent job with more than one agency. It has not been unknown for agencies to advertise a client’s vacancy through the employer’s local Jobcentre, but not in the employer’s name and for them to advertise the job in the media in the employer’s name, but with the contact details of the agency.

One vacancy might be advertised in three distinct locations.

All very confusing.

Jobcentre staff used to hate being used by the agencies. They got paid for our work and rarely did employers tumble to the fact that they were paying the agency to act as an intermediary.

And, if we worked out for which employer an agency was acting we were under strict instructions to not let the employer know what was happening.

Before 1997, we were even told not to point out that our service was freeish to employers when canvassing for vacancies. We were in competition with the employment agencies for business.

New Labour, boo, hiss, said we might say to employers that it was free at the point of delivery. You are paying for it through your taxes.

One euphemism for redundancies that has been in vogue for a while is downsizing. One assumes that an industry that needs to shrink is one that needs to lose workers and, perhaps, even businesses?

Of course, the people being made unemployed may not be in the right place, geographically, and, if they are possess the right mix of skills and experience for employers seeking new employees in Bell’s expanding industries.

The article is behind a pay wall and I have thus only seen the screen grabs, but none of them contain the B word.

The end of Freedom of Movement has seen a reduction in migrant labour from the European Union that is making it harder for some employers in some sectors of the economy to fill vacancies (and retain staff).

Fewer migrants in the UK means fewer customers for UK based businesses. Is anyone seriously trying to work out what that will mean for the UK economy in the coming months?

Fewer migrants in the UK means fewer business owners in the UK and potential owners of businesses, put up for sale by UK citizens.

And fewer migrant truck drivers either living and working here or living elsewhere and passing through poses a serious risk to economic recovery.

It is interesting that some of the experts are dubious about the importance of cabotage to UK haulage either out of ignorance or, may be, the fear of facing up to the reality of cold hard facts?

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of Torsten Bell’s article is its title, “Covid could still make a mockery of the best-laid economic plans“.

Boris Johnson and planning are mutually exclusive.

“Just a bit of fun, just a bit of fun …,” as Peter Snow used to say on Election Night Specials on the BBC, but seriously the UK’s HGV driver shortage …

Standard

“Whether we like it or not, our future prosperity is dependent on our ability to attract foreign-born workers to substitute for the native-born workers who were never born.”

Robert Wright, Professor of Economics at Strathclyde University

Demographic ‘time bomb a huge threat to the economy

We are short of at least 90,000 HGV drivers in the United Kingdom.

Logistics UK says it can take nine months for new drivers to qualify.

80% of those who took the Ministry of Defence’s LGV course in recent times, who passed it and then gained driving work, left the industry in the short term.

Using the MoD course as a guide, we would need to get 450,000 people to take HGV lessons, complete them satisfactorily, pass the appropriate examination and enter driving employment to get 90,000 drivers in the medium to long term.

Back in the day, in Jobcentres we used to say you needed to refer four people to a course to get two to turn up. Only one of the two would be suitable to start the course.

Assuming none of those starting our hypothetical course failed, we’d need to refer 1,800,000 for 900,000 to turn up and for 450,000 to get through the sift to start learning how to drive an HGV.

And all of that 450,000 would have to both complete the course and enter employment as HGV drivers.

The average HGV course costs £2,000.00 so the total cost of 450,000 courses might amount to £900,000,000.00.

And of course, one would need a small army of driving instructors to deliver that number of courses and another sizeable force of examiners to pass out those completing them.

I gather some instructors have quit their jobs to go back on the road, placing more work on to those instructors who have not and raising, probably unfairly, a question mark over their suitability as instructors.

And all that, before we consider the impact of the United Kingdom’s demographic time bomb on the industry.

Road hauliers have cited drivers retiring from the industry as being as big a problem for staff retention as the UK leaving the European Union.

In my Jobcentre days, one quite often had chaps saying that driving work was a doddle.

“Go on, gissa place on an HGV driving course. I can do that, I drove to and from work. I take my missus to the shops in the car. I mean what do you need to be a truck driver?”

“Well …”

Responses to this post from Twitter:

“Lift on Lift off… unaccompanied trailer loaded on ferry one end and picked up the other. as opposed to same driver accompanied RoRo (Roll on Roll off) both ends.”

“Driving a lorry is not about “employment”; the most successful lorry drivers own their own lorries. Ownership is a huge commitment based on years of experience, and establishing networks of customers and trading patterns. Only a fool would enter the market blind.”

“but surely (wink) all delivery points are just off motorway junctions & have huge yards where you’ve just got to go back straight whilst the yardman guides you?”

“Newbies are taught to pass a test , blind siding an artic into a crappy little gate trying not to take out all the badly parked cars , isn’t on the curriculum”

“Nah bruv, as a hgv driver of 30 years I can comfortably say your wrong. Once a new start passes their test the learning begins. If they last 2 years then they’re becoming competent. 30 years in & everydays different, everyday is a school day.”

“On top of exceptional driving skills, you need to be a skilled machine operator, you need to be able to plan ahead, to keep a cool head in sharp crisis situations, to have excellent reactions, to have a good head for figures and a lonely independence must be borne. Rare skills.”

“And how many Army drivers could reverse a 40ft artic through a customer car park into a loading dock without a banksman and not hit anything? Not knocking the Army, it’s just not what they do.”

“I couldn’t agree more! Especially the part that as an army driver you’re not trained to go reverse in the loading bays. I’ve had off road courses,tanker courses with 2/3 load(most tricky one) but learned reverse driving on my civil job,having the benefit of experience already.”

The government are planning to introduce longer lorries next year to solve the driver shortage issues Via @Telegraph:

“Yeah hi, is that ISO? Yeah, we’d like to change the worldwide industrial standard for containerised shipping units. Why? Well we want bigger lorries. Why? Well because we haven’t got enough. Why? Well because nobody will drive them. Why? Well because of Brexit. Hello? Hello??”

“Don’t worry Michael Shapps is going to build longer lorries”

“good for loads of feathers…and not so good for getting into loading/unloading yards…esp down Bradford back streets”

“I’m self employed and it’s a pita. Taxes, NI, bookkeeping. It’s a second job that not everyone can do. Just employ and pay people if you want their labour.”

“This is my “you fucking not serious drop” , luckily it wasn’t Southend Pier, Gravesend”

What goes into an average shift driving a lorry?

Tom the lorryist explains herein.

Matters Arising:

A particular Tweet …

“Makes a huge difference. Ditto land bridge to Ireland. I am actually shipping stuff manufactured in Britain to Ireland via our distribution centre in Netherlands. Customers happily pay double shipping rates. You guys are short of both drivers AND trucks. The cabotage.”

The shortage of drivers based in the UK has been exacerbated by the end of cabotage by EU based drivers delivering a load into the UK then making a number of deliveries within the UK before going back home. And UK based drivers no longer enjoy cabotage privileges in the EU.

For example, a Polish driver delivered a load from Warsaw to Birmingham, picked up a load here and took it to Norwich and then took a load from there to Dagenham before leaving the UK. We have been reliant on those sort of movements which is another cause of our current problems.

You may reasonably ask why the Polish driver is not taking back a single load to mainland Europe. Well, we import more goods from there than we export.

And if you are not hauling, you are invariably not earning so the prospect of cabotage within the UK made bringing a load into the UK, financially worthwhile.

Our Polish driver needs to know he has a load to take straight back or else it may not be viable for him to bring a load into the UK at all.

As we all know, drivers need insurance.

It is routinely difficult to get competitively priced insurance for newly fledged HGV drivers. If you go straight from only having driven a car to driving for a living you are deemed to be high risk, because you have no record of driving even a delivery van.

And, imagine an insurer considering the risks associated with a business which normally takes on a few drivers at any one time when it says it is looking at a larger number, some of whom have never driven routinely for work.

I gather there a lot of HGV licence holders out there in the UK not using them. An HGV licence expires after five years then you have to renew it. Having been trained to drive an HGV does not mean you are job ready.

Grant Shapps has told prospective employers they may get an ex offender off the Road to Logistics scheme.

Classic Shapps, potentially compromising the initiative and that particular group’s chances of securing employment in an industry wherein high levels of honesty are required and insurance premiums are high.

According to Grant Shapps, employers will be falling over themselves to employ ex offenders; ex regulars (the answer to every recruitment problem requiring tough men?) and the long term unemployed who have recently qualified to drive a basic HGV.

It is not like we have not tried that one at least once before with varying results.

Articles

On HGV driver shortages, both sides are missing the point about cabotage

Lorry shortage may soon spread to bus industry as drivers quit to take on HGVs

Gritter driver shortage could lead to icy roads this winter

Twitter threads

Brexit has removed cabotage, which made UK haulage more efficient

Brexiteers have been lying, again, about Covid impacting negatively on HGV training

To become a “professional HGV driver” you first need