Peter Rhodes on subsidised meals, the anger of Black Lives Matter and the rise of the Plasterboard Generation

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Long on anger

Obesity is a risk factor in Covid-19. Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to kick-start the economy by paying us to stuff our faces. Mmm.

Pursuing this strange approach, how about awarding grants to those forming the biggest crowds on Bournemouth beach?

Some folk are reportedly cooling towards Black Lives Matter with doubts about its political aims. That figures. When you visit an organisation's website, you want to know who runs it, what its policies are and, if you donate money, exactly how it will be spent. BLM UK's website is short on such details but long on anger, such as: “Black history and white history is entwined with white pillage. White domination, white supremacy, white power and white denial of atrocities against black bodies handed down by the white hand.” With the best will in the world, how is this sort of stuff supposed to bring us closer together – especially when you don't even know who's saying it?

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has rubbished Tony Blair's dream of getting 50 per cent of school leavers to university as “an absurd mantra.” He's right. At a time when we need to build a clean, green UK economy, we need bricklayers, carpenters and insulation installers, not hordes of young BA Hons with beards, laptops and indefinable jobs “in the media.” The next bunch of school leavers, like it or not, will be the Plasterboard Generation. They may never understand the philosophy of Albert Camus or skinny latte. On the other hand they will have more money in the bank, better holidays and own their own homes sooner than their older, hard-up siblings saddled with unwanted degrees and £50,000 of uni debt. Skint, skint, toujours skint, as Camus put it.

I wouldn't mind putting a small bet on Britain having what the experts call a V-shaped recovery, with our economy bouncing back. The reason is tucked away in a survey by a pension firm released a few days ago. It shows that while more than a quarter of Brits cut back on saving money during lockdown, a surprising 31 per cent managed to save more than before, with this figure rising to 38 per cent in London. While some workers have taken a financial hammering, millions of others, including those in the NHS, retail, emergency services and other front-line callings, have worked more shifts than ever. Retired folk, too, have had their pensions paid as usual with fewer opportunities to spend. Result: billions of pounds quietly accumulating in bank accounts all over the country.

When the pandemic retreats or a vaccine appears and people feel more confident, some of the lockdown-savers will spend, spend, spend. And it's only fair, if we really can't get rid of the iniquitous TV licence system, that most over-75s should start paying for theirs. The past few months have virtually bankrupted this country, largely in the cause of keeping old people alive. Now comes the bill.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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