Is there nothing the Tory cabinet will not try to have a culture war about?

Criticism of people working from home is utter nonsense in a dying culture war that looks more ridiculous every day

Jess Phillips
Friday 20 May 2022 17:18
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<p>The latest bogeymen are people working from home</p>

The latest bogeymen are people working from home

There is literally nothing the Conservative cabinet will not try to have a culture war about. I can see why, when you have nothing to offer in the way of hope or a future plan, the only way you can rule is to divide and conquer. I understand why they did it for a spell – it paid dividends for them and is ably aided by their favourite media outlets.

However when the chips are down and people cannot afford to heat their homes, and you start messing with the fragility of an actual culture war on the situation in Northern Ireland, or you are blethering on about selling off “woke” Channel 4, or which speakers are and aren’t allowed on university campuses, it does look as if you are an administration without a brain.

People are tired of it and starting to see through it. Divide and conquer has always allowed people who were not running the country properly to point at someone else and blame them for their failings. The EU, immigrants, lefty lawyers, benefit claimaints, single mothers have all been on hand over the years to provide Tory governments with an excuse. It couldn’t possibly ever be because they’re driven by an ideology that tries to take away all of our services and access to opportunity. Nope, it’s probably single mums in council flats, they are the ones with the power apparently.

The latest bogeymen are people working from home. Ordinary folks, tapping away on laptops in smart shirts and pyjama bottoms, a piece of toast in hand, are the latest evil geniuses apparently trying to overthrow our way of life. Even worse than just working from home, the government, namely Jacob Rees-Mogg, has taken aim at people working from home who are employed by the government. How could they, the absolute rogues?

There is literally no evidence the country has lower efficiency because people are hybrid working, sometimes from the office, sometimes from home. I do it and so does every single member of parliament, even the ones railing against it.

I entered in to a Twitter debate on the subject (I know, I will never learn), where someone asserted that WFH is a middle-class pursuit that forgets working-class people. Nurses can’t work at home (although many nurses working in the community absolutely can and do), bus drivers, lorry drivers and cleaners can’t work at home either. This is of course true, although the same can be said for many middle-class jobs: high court judges, doctors and teachers cannot work from home either (again many of them do loads of work at home).

So I would push back on the idea civil servants shouldn’t be working from home simply because bin men can’t either.

It is funny to hear how much the government suddenly care about the working conditions of nurses and lorry drivers, because the enormous shortages they have presided over of both of those professions does not speak of a well-cared for workforce. Instead of doing something to improve those jobs they have decided to just slag off people who have the flexibility to work in a different way.

What I hate most about this latest “culture war” by the government is that it paints the general public as mean and unreasonable. My husband has a manual job, he had to be furloughed during the pandemic because his job would have been impossible to do from home. He doesn’t hate my mate who works from home for Public Health England because he has to climb ladders and she gets to sit at a desk. He is not an idiot, he just thinks that they have different jobs.

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Not everything is for everyone. Anyone who posts about Mother’s Day on social media for example, feels the need to caveat it with, “obviously this day is hard for some people”. Well, I have a dead mum, and in fact my mother-in-law dropped dead on Mother’s Day this year, and I still don’t mind others celebrating Mother’s Day with joy and splendour. Equality never has been and never will be about everyone having the same. It is about everyone having equal opportunity according to their needs.

Newsflash – policy about workplace practices will not apply to all workplaces. The WFH debate, and that it’s literally causing global inflation according to some, is utter nonsense in a dying culture war that looks more ridiculous every day.

Jacob Rees-Mogg should crack on with his actual job of making our government departments serve people and offer value for money. I literally couldn’t care less if the person who sorts out the power of attorney application for my dad works three days in the office and two at home.

I just want it done well, and when it’s not, and departments fail (see the passport office or the DVLA right now) that won’t be because people worked at home, it will be because this government cannot organise a piss-up in a brewery.

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