Peter Rhodes on sickies, food banks and what really matters to Generation Bubble

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

The Bank of England – money tree?
The Bank of England – money tree?

In a survey, 40 per cent of employees said they would take a day off sick even if they weren't genuinely ill. Or to put it another way, 60 per cent of employees tell fibs.

One of Prince Andrew's closest advisers, Amanda Thirsk, has been taken off the Palace payroll in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. How does something like this affect your future job prospects? There are some jobs you really don't want to appear on your CV: Price Andrew's adviser, Boris Johnson's hairdresser, Private Baldrick's lifestyle coach, Diane Abbott's maths teacher. I'm sure you can think of more.

Owing to “reporting restrictions” we will not be seeing the orphaned children of Islamic State supporters who have been brought to Britain in a move described by one charity as “a triumph of compassion.” This is bound to raise suspicions. Three years ago a party of “children” from the Calais tent city were allowed in to Britain and filmed as they arrived. The Home Office later admitted only “limited checks” had been made on their ages. Some of them looked more like soldiers than kids.

Brenda from Bristol (“You're joking, not another one”) became the voice of the snap General Election in 2017, summing up the nation's weariness at so many trips to the polls. The definitive comment on next month's General Election may be the words of an 18-year-old interviewed in Didcot. She could not name the Prime Minister and cheerfully told the Beeb: “I want to get on with my little life, in my little bubble.”

The lesson? We are no longer a united kingdom but a collection of little tribal bubbles connected by Twitter. And in those bubbles, the big news of the day is not Laura Kuenssberg's latest political analysis or Nigel Farage threatening to scrap the House of Lords, but a tabby cat in Wyoming raising a clutch of ducklings, so sweet, OMG, LOL. You may think that the kids of Generation Bubble are ignorant and idle. But they may simply be in that state which chills the blood of politicians of every hue. Contented.

I am not convinced that a Corbyn (“Free stuff for everybody”) government would necessarily bankrupt the nation. Remember quantitative easing, launched by the Bank of England after the financial crisis 10 years ago? By the time it was over, the Bank had pumped about £200 billion into the UK economy. All the experts predicted that quantitative easing would send inflation through the roof. They were wrong. Maybe government money is quite unlike real money. Maybe there really is a magic money tree.

Meanwhile, how would Labour cope with the national embarrassment of food banks? It is one thing to condemn them, but how do you close them? Labour's manifesto talks of “a right to food in law” which will “remove the need for food banks within three years.” So that's no more free baked beans but enormous portions of fudge.

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