Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Is it 22miles or 33Km............?

by darragh Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:16:15 AM EST

My first read on ET was Jerome's excellent post France is not in decline, impressed by further reading on this website since has lead me to finally posting my own perspective. Though i'm not an economist i have spent many years living in the UK and have recently moved to France so i can give a personal opinion on the two countries.

What was most striking of the UK press coverage of the French election was the repeated mantra that the UK economic model was superior to the tired French social model. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that well paid London based journalists are disconnected from the realities of life in UKplc. But surely the guardian journalists are aware of the view of their economic's editor, Larry Elliott, on the Blair/Brown legacy. (taken from Guardian Larry Eliott)


Where does the UK fit in this world of changing economic geography, in which nations will increasingly concentrate on the things they do best? The answer is simple. We count the money and we do the bullshit.

From the diaries - afew


The theme of Eliott's convincing argument is that while the British media and politicians portray the country as a vibrant knowledge based economy the reality is that


The four iconic jobs in 21st-century Britain, according to a thinktank called the Work Foundation, are not scientists, engineers, teachers and nurses but hairdressers, celebrities, management consultants and managers.

there are at least four million people "in service" and the proportion of the population employed by the well-off to do their cooking, cleaning, childcare and gardening is as high as it was in the 1860s.

So with not too dissimilar unemployment levels (illustrated in Jerome's thread) why arent they rioting in the UK as they have done in France (often reported in smug tones by sections of the British media). The reasons for this must be numerous, such as the fact that effective civil disobedience has effectively been crushed since the miner's strikes in the Thatcher years. This was evidenced in the pre Iraq war demos which saw a million people take to the streets of London with little or no effect. Also unlike the Parisien Banlieues, the areas of vast unemployment in the UK are mostly in the industrial north and midlands, almost a case of out of sight out of mind for most London opinion makers.

But how long can this continue as Britains "liberalised" labour laws mean more and more working class jobs are done by subsistence pay illegal immigrants?


Work is easily available to those willing do anything at any price. That is what makes our immigration policy bogus. The government turns a blind eye, almost alone in the European Union without a proper work inspectorate. The UK refuses to sign the EU agency workers' directive that clamps down on abuse of "flexible" employees. Our gangmasters' law, passed after the cockle-pickers tragedy, only covers agriculture, not the cleaning, catering and hotel work where agencies for illegals thrive.

Probably until either of the unstable twins of the British economy, the inflated housing market driven consumerism and the city of London, falter.

With this model held up as something for France to aspire to one can only hope that Sarkozy's admiration of all things Anglo-Saxon is another media myth.

I didnt want this diary to descend into a rant against the UK but on reflection it looks as if it has. Despite this i spent many enjoyable years living there and found it a great place to live for someone young and free of dependents. In comparison with France people seemed much more open to change and were not fixated on securing a job for life leading both employees and employers more willing to take chances. However the Thatcher/Blair legacy is only widening the gap between rich and poor in my view.

So i think theres many things both countries could look to each other on what to do and not do. Sadly i dont see that happening among mainstream media and politicians who seem more interested in pushing tired cliches about one another.

But discovering this website has renewed my faith that maybe people across Europe and beyond can discuss progressive ideas which may help us through the coming challenges of climate change and peak oil.

 

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to answer the title its obviously both depending on your side of the channel
by darragh on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 05:01:12 PM EST
Well hey, nothing like a good rant, I say!
Welcome to EuroTrib!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 05:04:22 PM EST
Absolutely seconded...

Darragh.. let me introduce myself... I am the one here who will not use the word rant but personal hiygienic-symbolic tale with a particular narrative to push forward :)

I am that weird.

welllllllllllllllcome to the club!!!!

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Jun 15th, 2007 at 05:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The four iconic jobs in 21st-century Britain, according to a thinktank called the Work Foundation, are not scientists, engineers, teachers and nurses but hairdressers, celebrities, management consultants and managers.

This is a superb quote, and blisteringly accurate.

I was thinking a decade or so ago that hairdressing is probably the only career that can survive all but the most drastic social meltdown. It's hands-on so it can't be outsourced or automated, it's semi-skilled so not quite everyone can do it, and it will always be popular as long as there's even a nominal surplus of time and money.

My local town has something like 10 salons among a total shop population of perhaps 75 small stores. They all seem to be doing very well.

The two small bookstores, however - not so much.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 07:17:36 PM EST
How could they have omitted estate agents?

Maybe they are a subset of "broker" - where the UK has for centuries reigned supreme.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 07:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's at least two hairdressers on every street in Paris.  The only stores you see more of are sushi restaurants.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Jun 15th, 2007 at 02:36:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
part of the Golgafrincham B-Ark to get rid of "an entire useless third of their population"?

Douglas Adams is starting to make more and more sense to me...

by Nomad on Fri Jun 15th, 2007 at 04:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think management consultants were in there too.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My local town has something like 10 salons among a total shop population of perhaps 75 small stores. They all seem to be doing very well.

The two small bookstores, however - not so much.

It sounds, from this point of view, exactly like a French small town - the one I know best, anyway.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:10:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hairdressing is also one of the few regular services that allows for social contact, like bars but unlike most others : an haircut means an hour long discussion with the patrons.

I'd bet lonely people getting a haircut for social contact helps business...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes and let's not be intellectual snobs about hairdressers, and it is not just a female concern. I remember years ago sitting in a hairdresser's which was packed, although there were about 4 guys working there. We young guys were there because they were doing more modern styles and not just short back and sides. It seeed important at the time.

I remember a recent survey found that hairdressers were one of the occupations most happy in their work - no doubt to do with the element of creativity and the varied social inteaction.

Welcome to ET - I've made the same move from UK to France - see signature.

Of course I spent the time at the French hairdresser recently explaining to him that the French economy wasn't in such a bad shape and the UK's wasn't so great and there were a lot of good things about France in comparison with the UK, it's medical system - not waiting months to see a dermatologist for example - the transport systems, etc.

Things ripple out from here :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there's any intellectual snobbery implied - it's just an observation that hairdressing salons seem to be among the "growth" small businesses.

While I am truly sad to say that independent booksellers... are disappearing.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 07:25:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can sell books over the internet and you can buy direct from the publisher, but you can't get a haircut on the internet except on Second Life.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 07:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, but the fact that a hairdressing is a direct physical service to persons doesn't (in itself) explain the rise in the number of salons. I'd (tentatively) suggest that has to do with the profitability of having your own salon compared to the conditions under which you might be employed by another hairdresser.

And the way books are sold has an influence on what books are sold. Independent booksellers increase the chances for some worthwhile books that are not getting a big promotional boost, for example. So direct buying and small bookseller buying are not (qualitatively) interchangeable, imo.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 08:55:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bookselling has economies of scale, which haircutting doesn't have.

Also, Bookselling doesn't necessitate much human input ; your average FNAC sells a lots of books with few employees, whereas haircutting is a labor intensive activity.

What it means is that when inequality rises, and the lower salaries are rising slower than average income, such labor intensive activities are becoming cheaper : the cost of an haircut is based on that of low wage labour. So haircutting is getting an price advantage... and rises.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 09:13:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is very hard for specialist booksellers, whose added value is that they can recommend books to their customers, to make a profit. And now that online bookstores can datamine people's purchases, that personal touch is becoming ever less valuable.

Not to speak of the fact that the large bookstores used to employ people who knew about books, but now selling books is at FNAC is just another low-paying, unskilled service job.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 09:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but there are lots of complicating factors - as usual. Thus in buying on the internet one can see professional reviews and those of othe readers. One can see what other people who bought the book one is interested in also bought - suggesting books one hadn't heard about. Again one can then read a variety of reviews about those books - which is arguably better than one person's opinion in a bookshop - who can't know about all types of books.

 Not that I don't like browsing in real bookshops and a Waterstones etc. can have a larger stock of specialist books, and seats and coffee :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 10:22:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link, darragh. I wish there was more stuff like this in the Guardian -- I note that it's an extract from a book Larry Eliott and another author are bringing out, called Fantasy Island. It seems to me symptomatic, though, of a feeling that we're at the end of Blairism per se. Something the French PS might (should) meditate as it looks for ways to renovate and rebuild.

It would be so good if we could stop having to fight the CW that assumes the UK has shown the other European countries the way to go -- which is pure bullshit, as Eliott says. Then we could get down to doing what you suggest: working out the best way to do things with real problems, including looking at how other countries have handled them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:57:52 AM EST
BTW, I know you've commented before, but thanks for this excellent first diary!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fantasy Island

Yup.

That sounds like it's going to be well worth reading when it appears.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:39:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 07:28:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me why I'm so glad my husband is a baker/pastry chef, a job which also needs to be done in-country for the most part.  

A girlfriend of mine despaired that her younger son said he didn't want to go to college, that he wanted to be a diesel mechanic.  "Rejoice," I told her, "his job is less likely than others to leave the country.  If he went to medical school and became an expert in reading x-rays and scans, etc., his job could easily be lost to cheaper overseas workers, since it can all be transmitted digitally."  

Downside, of course, is the lower pay, but living simply with my baker surpasses living with a Donald Trump by at least, I don't know, 22 miles or 33 Km.

Karen in Austin

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 10:58:55 AM EST
great diary, thanks for the good writing.

the benefits from having been the world superpower a century ago, tailending already in the 60's, are nearly over now.

the commonwealth immigration wave starting in the 50's with windrush, took a lot of the 'lower-class' jobs, and helped continue britain's prosperity.

from being the big enchilada, it's a long way down.

the future of a country depends on how it treats its children, look at the lack of respect for children in the uk.

'nuff said

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 08:29:29 PM EST
thanks for all the positive comments

i actually miss my hairdresser from the UK, i went to the same one for years so i def miss the social element more than her hair cutting skills

by darragh on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 03:19:35 PM EST


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