Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Hot Air, Harman and Hogging It All

Demetrius, as always, hits the nail squarely on the head:
"The sweltering heat in the South and East of England arises from a plume of high pressure caused by hot air movement unusual for this time of year. This is due to a surge of political manifestos."
Foremost among the noxious emissions is the flatulence emanating from Harriet Harman's Big Pink Battle Bus under the guise of a 'Women's Manifesto' - surely as clear an illustration as white facepaint on black celebrities of the principle that discrimination is, for some at least, definitely a one-way street.

Among other gems, this document apparently promises guaranteed childcare from 8am to 6pm, to 'set a goal for fifty per cent of ministerial appointments to public boards to be women' - nothing like ensuring you always get the best person for the job! - and to double paid paternity leave.

It also includes the bright idea of four weeks of unpaid childcare leave for working grandparents; having brought up their own children without the benefit of recent childcare subsidies and tax credits, grandparents are now being invited to forego a month's wages so their grown-up offspring can get to work.

This is apparently because grandmothers "give up their work when the kids are little in order to help the mothers and fathers balance work and home" - in other words, to enable mothers to leave their new babies and find career-based fulfilment in the workplace in the approved feminist fashion.

This, it turns out, is less than ideal for the grandmothers, who put their own careers on hold while youth has its day "and then find that they can't go back to work once the children are back at school because once you're in your late 50s and early 60s it's really hard for a woman to get a job then."

Really Harriet? Could this, perhaps, be because the posts for which they are they are suitably qualified and experienced are already occupied by mothers who have farmed out their children on a daily basis in order to get straight back into the workplace?

It all reminds me of 1990s City superwoman Nicola Horlick, interviewed in her kitchen on how she successfully managed her career and family while her mother silently tackled a sinkful of washing-up in the background. According the the Mail, 'Research suggests 1.9 million grandparents have given up a job, reduced their hours, or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.'

It appears that the 'having it all' generation of career women, encouraged by the likes of Harman, not only want the taxpayer to fund their childcare but also expect their mothers to sacrifice their own careers to take up the slack; how fortunate, then, that Harman's happy compromise means the grandparents only lose a month's salary instead!

As a bonus, this issue has given us a contender for the most meaningless soundbite of the campaign so far - though, as ever, there's plenty of competition:
"When asked about whether he was assuming that older women could afford to work for free, Mr Miliband said that this was "about going with the grain of people's lives" and that the modern workplace needed to reflect "the reality of family life"."


  1. Many thanks! On 30 July 1912 I did a post on Harriet's Little Secret about her Chamberlain family. They were fond of bossing people about.

  2. That would have been remarkably prescient of you, Demetrius; you have clearly spent too much time recently researching the family archives!

    All that coterie of top Labour women seem to be surprisingly happy giving orders, not to mention getting other people to do their dirty work; remember this?

    'In that year, she [Jacqui Smith] earned £95,000 as Minister for Women and currently earns nearly £142,000.

    However, the cleaner at her 'second home' in Redditch, Worcestershire, has been paid £2,400 a year - or about £46.15 a week - without a pay rise for five years. The national average wage has risen by 14.5% over this time.'

    (Daily Telegraph, 19th April 2009)

  3. It isn't only career-based fulfilment, but also a matter of staying on the treadmill of modern life which seems to suck away time and money at an ever increasing rate.

    No wonder pubs are closing, people don't have the time. It's easier to open a bottle of wine and chill out at home until the treadmill starts again next morning.

  4. A good point, AKH; the impact of the treadmill is compounded by the fact that, aside from the bills to be paid, there's a vicious circle of going to work largely in order to pay for the wardrobe, personal grooming, childcare, transport, lunches and lattes 'necessary' for a day in the workplace.

    It's funny to think that, when the first computers started appearing in industry, we were told that future workers would be educated in various pastimes to enjoy the life of leisure that automation would bring.

  5. AK Haart refers to chilling out at home, ready for the grind next morning. There is much stress about, seems to me far more than formerly. And minor illnesses linger longer now. Not good.

  6. JH, much of it, perhaps, is due to overcrowding; we were never intended to live at such a population density.