Coming as I do from an impeccably proletarian background – my mother was variously a cleaner, a shop assistant and a factory worker, my father a factory worker and a car park attendant – I’ve never had any illusions about exactly who keeps a country moving. I’ve never swallowed the propaganda about the British worker being lazy either – my mother usually worked two part-times jobs while for most of my childhood my father worked a night shift in a distillery and then at weekends acted as my entertainment co-ordinator.
So it’s with a certain grim satisfaction that I applaud our key workers – from supermarket stackers and care workers to lorry drivers – every Thursday evening, wondering how many of my neighbours in the People’s Republic Of Brighton & Hove previously viewed our working class from afar as a vague combination of idle estate-dwelling scroungers and hard-working immigrants fair game for naked exploitation.
To some extent, it was sustained belittling of workers which led to our Brexit victory. But it seems some won’t give up their right to exploit labour without a fight, with the liberal media serving as their useful idiots. After controversy arose around reports of farmers flying in thousands of Romanians to help in the fields, despite a nationwide call for a land army to harvest imminent fruit and vegetable crops, the Guardian snipped that “thousands of British workers who responded to a nationwide appeal to help pick fruit and vegetables on farms have rejected job offers”.
Another outlet smugged that “the rise in xenophobic public rhetoric surrounding Brexit has led to a decline in seasonal workers coming to the UK”. But many Britons complained on social media of an anti-Brit bias by farmers who have dismissed them as “picky”.
A young woman who previously worked as a copywriter but was keen to apply her youthful vigour to a more physical pursuit posted on Twitter this week “The comments I’m seeing about British workers not answering the call for fruit picking make me sad – my partner & I and many others have applied and have either heard nothing or been told that farms are overrun with applications. Cheap labour is the real narrative here. I’m willing to put in the effort to learn how to be an efficient fruit picker fast so that I can support my country. The point is, the farms aren’t willing to invest in me.”