In Praise of Sloth

Hammondeggs, in his autumn statement, couldn’t bring himself to parrot Treeza’s dreadful just-about-managing mantra, but unfortunately he simply reverted to the cliché before last, ‘hard-working families’.

Is there any doggedly repeated phrase of recent times more condescending to the British people? Leave aside the fact that we’re not all in families – ‘hard-working spinsters’ or ‘hard-working bachelors’ wouldn’t quite work the trick – this is an odious patting on the head to inferiors.

‘You should be proud of yourselves for slogging away to scrape a living,’ they’re saying, ‘and we want you to know how much we appreciate your heads-down approach to life. Keep going and we’ll toss a few crumbs your way!’

That’s because if you look up you’ll see what they’re getting away with – how there’s been a massive swing in income for the rich (who often don’t work particularly hard for it, if truth be told) as opposed to the rest of us who barely get by.

The poorly hidden subtext here is that there are millions of us who aren’t hard-working and who therefore don’t deserve the government’s handouts they’re reluctantly given – people on benefits of any kind.

And pensioners? Yes, they account for a hefty 47 per cent of total benefit spending, but of course, or so the Tories will tell us, they’ve worked hard all their lives.

Well, some have and some haven’t. Some have slaved their guts out and some have had a cushy time of it, as is the way of the world. Equally, some of those who have worked their proverbial fingers to the bone have enjoyed every minute of it, while others have longed for the day they could stop.

What is this fetish about being hard-working? Why should we not rejoice in an easy life if it’s given to us? Treeza and her pals would hate the idea of a Merrie England in which the populace stirred itself when necessary but otherwise indulged themselves in cakes and ale. Those free spirits would be horribly tricky to manipulate and control.

Away with this oppressive drudgery, we say. Let’s give a loud cheer for sloth! 

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