‘Lazy’ British workers catch up with Liz Truss once again |  liz truss

‘Lazy’ British workers catch up with Liz Truss once again | liz truss

The Tories like to present themselves as being on the side of British workers.

It is safe territory not only between party members but also, crucially, key to holding together their fragile post-2019 electoral coalition of the former Labor heartland and the true blue south.

So it would be a reckless would-be Tory leader to criticize even in passing the great British worker. But Liz Truss’s extraordinary comments when she was number 2 at Treasury seem to do just that.

It’s no secret that London and the South East have, in some ways, the highest productivity of any UK region, according to official statistics. But you’d be hard-pressed to find an economist who believes this is due to the “mentality” of workers in other parts of the country.

In fact, the plethora of large international companies in the capital, booming financial and service industries, huge spending on research and development, and the best transport infrastructure in Britain are the main reasons.

The fact that many other parts of the country do not have these advantages built in was exactly what the government’s equalization promises were supposed to address.

Truss is already on the defensive in fighting regional inequalities after her damaging U-turn on regional wages, prompting the Labor Party to call her “Leveling Down Liz”.

In response, Truss pledged to continue with the leveling agenda but in a “conservative manner,” which has been interpreted as a focus on tax cuts and deregulation, rather than high spending and investment.

His rival, Rishi Sunak, has also failed to level up, despite his promises to prioritize the issue and the backing of a host of ‘red wall’ Conservative MPs, admitting he took money from deprived urban areas to give it to the richer parts. from the country.

The productivity gap is not just a Conservative Party problem. If Labor comes to power, they will also need to urgently address Britain’s outlier status on regional inequality.

Truss’s comments from her time at the Treasury, revealed in a recording leaked to The Guardian, are in danger of undermining her already fragile commitment to leveling up.

They also expose her to charges of badmouthing the UK, a serious offense as far as some of her Tory colleagues are concerned, despite her best efforts with union flags, “global Britain” and belligerent attacks on Brussels and the Scottish government. .

But his views are not particularly new. They echo a controversial passage in a book, Britannia Unchained, which she co-authored with four other Conservative MPs, including Dominic Raab and Kwasi Kwarteng, her likely chancellor if she makes it to No. 10.

“Once they enter the workplace, Britons are among the world’s worst idlers,” they wrote. “We work off the charts, we retire early, and our productivity is poor. While Indian children aspire to be doctors or entrepreneurs, British children are more interested in football and pop music.

Truss, at least, seems to acknowledge that while some Conservative members may share her views, any hint that she may be less than sympathetic to British workers might not go down well with the general public.

In the first televised face-to-face debate with Sunak, he couldn’t distance himself from the book quickly enough, blaming Raab for the chapter even though they had made a collective decision to write it.

But as the leaked recording confirms, he not only had that view of British workers at the time, but also many years later. Some will conclude that he still does.

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