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Confusion on the wildcat strikes

Nick Robinson | 08:54 UK time, Monday, 2 February 2009

What is the government's view of the wildcat strikes? Clearly, ministers want them to stop but do they think the strikers have a point or not? Listen to different ministers and you get different answers.

Cabinet minister and former union leader Alan Johnson told the BBC on Sunday morning that "I can understand the anger" of the strikers. He went on to suggest that new EU directives were needed "to make it absolutely clear that people can't be undercut in this way" so that "we don't allow this kind of dumbing down".

Hours later, Peter Mandelson said that the firm involved - Total - has made clear that there is no discrimination against British workers, either in the form of their wages being undercut or them being excluded from applying for jobs. What's more, he said that the issue of European law is quite separate from this dispute.

The unions are concerned that recent court rulings make it impossible to defend their members from the threat of cheap labour coming from abroad. They point to the case of a Latvian company, Laval, which had a contract to build schools in Sweden. Laval claimed that its freedom to use a Latvian workforce was being inhibited by attempts to block the move by Swedish unions. Its complaint was upheld in the European Court of Justice.

Business ministers are not challenging this judgement or pushing for new directives, but are merely awaiting a report from the European Commission on the effects of the ruling.
It would only be relevant to the current British dispute if there were evidence of discrimination against British workers - which Lord Mandelson insists there isn't.

This morning, Lord Mandelson suggested that the confusion was simply a matter of timing - in other words, that his cabinet colleague was simply talking before the facts were made clear by the employer.

Somehow I doubt that will quite solve the problem.


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  • Comment number 1.

    What we have here is a clear case of a government drowning in its own contradictions.

    Just as Gordon Brown is drowning in his own contradictions.

    Now let's hear form the newlabour support machine on the latest nobel prize winner to pronounce on British economic policy with respect to the banks;

    Oh dear - he appears to be contradicting the Prime Minister.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 2.

    In many respect over the last 11 years, Labour have managed the country by 'spin' and 'sound bite' without effecting any real change or improvement to the country.

    Brown's promise "British jobs for British workers" is an example where the spin does not match reality.

    Now that that the good times are over, the spin of the past is causing them problems.

    I fully expect Ministers to continue to come unstuck and stray off-message as the web of waffle they have constructed collapses.

  • Comment number 3.

    The root of the problem as I see it is that no government has ever really asked the British people if they wanted their country to be changed forever and partly governed by the EU and its directives. A single free and open job market may be a wonderful idea from some perspectives, but the british people were never asked if they wanted it or to be part of it.

    I have a feeling this could be the start of a very ugly backlash against the government and the EU. And not just in this country.

  • Comment number 4.


    A sensible summary of the facts of what ministers have been saying over the weekend, but you miss the point methinks.

    We all know that European law is explicit in catering for freedon of movement and the right to work anywhere in the EU....but as far as I can gather the protests aren't about EU law, they're about Gordon Brown's ridiculous promise of 'British Jobs for British workers' made at the Labour Conference in 2007.

    Despite the legally accurate pronouncements by Mandelson and co, their obvious embarrassment and squirming to try and extracte Brown is just another example of the rubbish this man spouts.

    The country knows he isn't up to long before his MP's realise that the longer he stays, the more of them will lose their seats at the next election. It's about time they 'grew some' I think.

  • Comment number 5.

    I see that Peter Oborne in today's Daily Mail does not think much of your objectivity Nick and paints you as a Labour stooge. He is absolutely right!

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Ministers are just worried about loosing votes in Labours heartlands.

    You might as well ride it out lads youre all gona be history by June next year.

  • Comment number 8.


    You have to admire Mandelson - he could say black was white and make it sound convincing. Ran rings round John Humphries on the Today Programme.

    However I'm not sure I believe him without independent confirmation. The old saying about counting your fingers after shaking hands come to mind.

    Do we have any confirmation of his account that a British company was originally the subcontractor but it was given to the current firm because the first firm didn't do the work???

  • Comment number 9.

    Did anyone else notice the sophistry of Peter Madelson on the Today programme.
    He said that the Italian company's workers were being paid internationally agreed rates, which is not the same as rates of pay the same as those enjoyed in the UK.

    One of the "great" side effects of the open boarders in the UK is that skilled British workers have had their pay put under pressure by workers coming into the UK and being prepared to work for little more than the minimum wage undermining the income of British workers who would normally be expected to vote Labour.

    The other point worth mentioning is the difference in income and benefits of the workers and those that spell out the workings of the European Union. Some like Peter Mandelson have been handsomely enriched, others at the other end of the scale are worried about their income.

    Would anyone like to establish exactly what Peter Mandelson has actually received from the European Union. If I was him I would keep my mouth firmly shut and keep out of the limelight.

  • Comment number 10.

    Duh ! Of course NuLab ministers speak with forked tongue - they're desperate for re-election. And one of them is Mandelson ...

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    So that would mean that the striking workers are liars then, as they have said that the Italian sub-contractor had stated that they would not employ British workers, at any cost.

    I know who I would believe, and it sure ain't Mr Mandelson.

    Isn't there also a delicious irony that the party of the working man is having such problems with the ordinary worker again, why does this always happen to Labour?

  • Comment number 13.

    This is another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    Labour and trade unionists have been in the forefront of promoting EU legislation when it suits their objectives. (Just remember the delight among trade union leaders when the Commission threatened to revoke Britain's opt out of the Working Time Directive).

    Now they squeal when it bits them in their over-padded posteriors. Serves them right.

    As for the conflicting interpretations offered by Johnson and Mandelson: who would you trust to speak the truth?

    (Correct answer: neither, of course - they're both Nu Liebour)

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't do wiring in my own home due to Part P rules dispite having an electronics degeee.

    So I hired a UK electricians to do the work, on the day a polish electrician came did the work and issued the certificate.

    They use a qualified Polish electrician who had not passed his part p exams in the uk but was working under "supervision". He was on site by him self the whole time supervised by phone?

    Apparently it is legal for a company to supervise their foregin workers and issue part P certificates even when these workers are not qualified.

    I would have been better off doing the work my self and paying building standards to check it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Mandlesnake the supposed minister for business sticking up for the EU instead? There's a shocker.

    Call an election. And further more, give us the chance to vote on the EU treaty.

  • Comment number 16.


    I like that - a web of waffle

    Like a cornucopia of contradictions.

    A larder of lies.

    Their hypnotic hyperbole with its reason-free rhetoric.

    Thye've lost; conclusively and superbly the next election. it does't matter anymore what we say or do or what they say or do they will never be returned to power.

    No-one can stand the lies and spin anymore; the constant over-promising and underdelivering.

    There was only ever so many soaring speeches one could expected to tolerate form Gordon Brown; now he's making oen a day people have simply had enough.

    He's saving the banks today the auto sector tomorrow next day the wolrd. just go away; we don't like you.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 17.

    LORD Mandelson sparked fury yesterday after telling British workers to find jobs in Europe instead of complaining about competition from foreigners.

    As wildcat strikes over cheap foreign labour threatened to spread, the Business Secretary fanned the flames by insisting it would be wrong to keep British jobs only for British workers.

    “It would be a huge mistake to retreat from a policy where, within the rules, UK companies can operate in Europe and European companies can operate here,” he said. “Protectionism would be a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression.”

    It came as Gordon Brown condemned the strikes as “indefensible” and stressed that the UK was
    part of a single European market. Europe Minister Caroline Flint also backed Lord Mandelson’s stance. She said: “It is important to remember that open European labour markets also allow British firms and workers to take advantage of contracts and opportunities elsewhere in the EU.”


    Perhaps all the striking workers at the Lindsey refinery should apply to Brussels to become Curopean Commissioners?

    Let them eat cake, eh Mandy?!

  • Comment number 18.

    So the Italian company can pay to ship workers over to the UK and house them in a facility moored to the dock, pay them British equivalent wages and still win the tender on price?

    Their margins must be very slim.


    The charges they deduct from their Italian workforce for travel and subsistence exceed the company's actual costs - allowing them to nicely circumvent the EU law on wage equivalence.

    Which is it? Slim margins or creative accounting?

    Could you find out on our behalf Nick?

  • Comment number 19.

    It's very hard to know what's going on here. The Unions say that Total's subcontractors are discriminating against British workers. Total says they aren't.

    Whom to believe?

    Luckily, there's an easy way to clear it up. Discriminating against British workers would be illegal. All the Unions need to do is to take the company to court, and then all the facts can come out.

    Of course, if the Unions decide not to take any legal action, I think we can draw our own conclusions.

  • Comment number 20.

    If the boot was on the other foot and it was us applying for jobs in say... Italy Italian fiorms would soon pout our noses out of joint but what if a British firm in italy things might be different.

    Here we are hosting foreign companies and nothing to protect our own people.. this puts it down to Government and the so-called EU laws they are neglecting to explain so this government must be held responsible for it is they who should ensure that this kind of problem wouldn't arise, thia is what yiou gewt by allowing foreign companies into the country - one rule for them and non for us...!

    Mr Brown would have difficulty painting by numbers let alone comparing himself to great painters, no matter what he says goes in one ear and out the other with me for this is the party of rhetoric and needs regulation to regulate the regulated.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mandelson didn't sound at all convincing to me. Like the school case in Sweden this shipping in (they even brought their own floating hotel to avoid given Britain any income) of foreign workers contradicts natural justice and normal EU law. Ruling against Sweden by the ECJ is perverse and needs to be overturned today.

    Mandelson should get up to Total's office and TELL THEM to relet that contract, no matter what it costs Total - they can afford it

  • Comment number 22.

    What the government fails to see is that British workers don't give a damn about what rules are or are not being broken. They see foreigners taking jobs that they could do.

    We are in a recession, quite simply people are scared and with good reason. The government should stop worrying about the rest of the world and start looking inward.

    If a Brit can do the job, then a Brit should get the job. Same thing with imports, governent contracts etc. Look to Britain first. If it can be bought here, then don't import it. If the skills are here, then don't go employing foreigners.

    Rules have nothing to do with it, priciples have.

    Oh, and if the skills aren't here, why not?

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Nick,

    Alan Johnson saying he would like to change the EU Directive to suit, does not sound like a particularly expeditious process to me (and certainly not enough to assuage the striking workers on the ground).

    As for Lord Mandy, he is turning out to be something of a loose cannon. His quote about protectionism being damaging was not fully reporting on the BBC website. What he actually said was that protectionism such as Obama's "buy American" campaign would be damaging.

    Given how Gordon Brown constantly tells us that global, and not national, solutions are required, it didn't take long for Mandy to 'adjust' his comment (the BBC, it would appear, lamely agreed to the accommodation).

    In any event, the Government message is ad hoc and fragmented. Most of the PLP seem now to have resigned themselves to the fact that losing the next general election is now inevitable.

    See you in the pub - weather permitting.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Nick,

    Good piece of your usual fairness but highly the wrong point, as per the course.

    They are on strike because BRITISH JOBS FOR BRITISH WORKERS as once famously stated by GB!

    A totally illegal act under UE rules and GB knew this when he said it.

    It is wildly reported that you are being mislead and -

    'if you want to be taken seriously you must approach the Prime Minister's statements with more scepticism' (Peter Osborne)

    Others are starting to take notice of your reporting.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think Trevor Kavanagh catches the public mood in his article:

    Labour have trampled all over the average man on the street - as a consequence Brown is going to get destroyed at the ballot box.

  • Comment number 26.

    Labour's Winter of Discontent Mk II

    "Dialogue diary

    Today 700 Sellafield contractors meet to discuss strike action

    Today Acas meets both sides to try to resolve walkouts at refineries and power stations

    Today and tomorrow Balpa pilots’ union seeks meetings with bmi management over pay freeze amid calls for strike

    Wednesday Company bosses and unions in the construction and engineering sector meet to discuss strikes

    Wednesday Electricians working for London Underground stage strike

    Thursday Union delegation meets MPs and goes to Downing Street to talk about the industrial strife


    History repeats itself.

    By the way, is the rumour true that the snow "started in America"?!

  • Comment number 27.

    The trouble with, "Gordon Brown speak," is that he never means what he says on the, "can."

    British Jobs for British Workers according to him no longer means that. It now means, "we will equip british workers with the skills to do the job so that there will be no need to bring in foreign workers."

    Trouble is that the workers on strike are skilled workers. So I think poor old Gordon has been hung by his own pertard, so to speak.

    Gordon will undoubtedly now disappear from view, as he usually does, over this local difficulty and leave it to the real P M (Peter Mandleson) to confuse us all by spinning the story so that the media and populous turn the strikers.

    Unfortunately the strikers` plight resonates with the bulk of the country, so I think the situation will only get worse.

    The only one in NuLabour who has spoken with any sense about all of this was poor old Frank Field. Unfortunately I don`t see either PM wanting to listen to him.

  • Comment number 28.

    As far as I know, the foreign Total workers are getting paid at the same rate British workers would, which tells you this either about the available skills in the UK not being good enough, or the companies doing this work in the UK aren't good enough.

    If a UK company can more skilled or cheaper or better educated workers from abroad, instead of pursing this protectionist racket it might be an idea to take a good look at modern Britain.

    Companies hire from abroad, not just due to lower wages, but due to a better work ethic, better math skills and, in some cases, better language skills.

    Some of us have been saying our education system is a timebomb for sometime now, well it's started to detonate, and this is what you get.

  • Comment number 29.

    Looks like it's Brown's winter of discontent. This is what you get from making fatuos 'British jobs for British workers' comments. Got him a round of applause at the conference and a whole lot of trouble now- typical new labour- all short term spin and soundbites over policy

    Call an election now

  • Comment number 30.


    Ah, but someone thinks someone else is a more appropriate candidate for the next Nobel Prize, so that's alright then.

  • Comment number 31.

    Its so sad to see the former* Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, struggling to say 'British jobs for British workers' and oh, by the way, what I really meant was....bluster...bluster....we belong to Europe...bluster...

    I'm afraid that despite Lord Mandelson (you got it right Badgercourage Post #8) this morning, attempting to paint over the cracks, the former* Prime Minister and his Cabinet have so missed the REAL ISSUE - people are so angry and resentful at years and years of increasing taxation, controls on freedom, nannying and now watching their jobs, pensions and future commitments for their children evaporate.

    Why? because the Government is so out of touch at street level, it doesn't spot what is happening, let alone what is coming next!

    We had Mr Brown and Mr Darling admitting recently they didn't spot the recession coming. Well the 'money market traders' did, so why didn't they?

    They just simply don't have the depth of experience, the knowledge, the education or the business and 'street nous' to understand or comprehend how the country operates, let alone how a man is supposed to struggle without a job, pay his mortgage, put food on the table and keep his children clothed, warm and healthy!

    It is clear that the former* Prime Minister and his Cabinet have not only 'lost the plot' but they are so blissfully ignorant of the fact that public sentiment at street level is at 'tinder' levels.

    One spark and I would not be surprised to see this country ignite in civil disobedience. The Poll tax riots of the Thatcher years would be like a Girl Guides Picnic in comparison.

    ps. *I keep saying 'former' because Gordon Brown has just lost the next General Election, no matter what happens in the next two years.

    If anyone spotted his performance Live at Davos on Saturday morning they will know what I mean.

    Was like watching Jackanory and Watch with Mother.

    So very sad to see someone who was considered by many to be good in the Treasury, so utterly out of his depth in front of World Leaders.

  • Comment number 32.

    The meltdown in Gordon Brown's authority over the cabinet and this administrations credibility in the country is turning into a maelstrom of discontent and increasing civil disobedience, not just in the country but with labour MP's as well

    As the date for an election soon moves to less than a year this can only accelarate as the political equivalent of Katrina bears down on the Labour party and this government.

  • Comment number 33.

    Since Lord Mandy is, bizarrely and shamelessly, back in Government yet again perhaps he can be transparent about his own "internationally agreed" rates of pay, expenses, pensions and allowances? A simple spreadsheet identifying the actual amounts he has been paid by British and European taxpayers under each heading for each of the last 10 years would suffice - with a few columns projecting the next 10 years as well. Then we could all judge the strength of his comments on other people's income and livliehood in the light of his own takings and his personal attachment to the great works of the EU-brigade.

    Finally, has anyone asked the good Lord who he spent Christmas and New Year with yet? Perhaps he "dripped" venom on his colleagues again.

  • Comment number 34.

    Why isn't ANY politician prepared to admit that there's no such thing as a British worker anymore?

    We're all EU or Non-EU workers now.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am spitting feathers; how dare Peter Mendelson lecture the British workers about the rules of the EU. He will be paid around £78,000 from the Commission on top of his Cabinet salary of £104,000, ensuring that his total pay in his new job is the same as his £182,500 salary as an EU Commissioner.
    In addition to the salary boost, Mr Mandelson's four-year stint in Brussels entitles him to an annual index-linked pension worth £31,000 after only 4 years in the job. Mr Mandelson will also be entitled to one-off resettlement expenses worth as much as £15,000. His London base is a terraced house in Regent's Park in central London, which he bought for £2.4 million in 2006. Not bad for someone who had to borrow from a friend only a few years ago to buy his first house.
    I wonder how MP’s and Ministers would feel if their jobs were done at “internationally agreed” i.e. low rates of pay in accordance with the same rules of those that they are so keen to criticise?

  • Comment number 36.

    One of the major problems is that the Foreign firm can undercut in the bidding stage of a contract because its workers are not qualified to Citb standards.

    I can guarantee there are gangs of workers on the Olympic projects that are not qualified to British construction industry standards with all the appropriate licences but there is no checking taking place,and if there is, the gang just disappear off to another site while the inspector visits.

    Its a bit of a pickle Mr Brown has left himself in how long until the election ???

  • Comment number 37.

    I did enjoy listening to the dexterous manner of Mandy this morning on Today. It greatly eased the stress of sitting in the traffic jam in the snow. The man is a true delight.

    His problem is that this oafish government has dug a hole, filled it with fudge and then promptly jumped into it. You just could not make it up.

    The matter is no longer about who is right and who is wrong. The construction industry is on its knees and there are many unemployed skilled workers eager for work. Their question is why aren't they getting the work? Can the government answer that question? What has happened to the so called fiscal stimulus? Or was that just for the banks?

    The government is not fit to run the country and they should go now.

  • Comment number 38.

    Is there anybody out there old enough to remember a regime which wanted to unite the whole of Europe into an entity united by strict regulation, with workers' rights restricted to what the entity proclaimed? Does anybody remember how free speech was curbed, all in the name of protecting the entity? At the start, there were glib speakers, with the gift of the gab, to soften up the public. Later, the soft soap was replaced with directives, or dictates issued by radio and newspaper. Sound familiar? Sssh! The Moderator has got my number!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Confusion. Confusion. Confusion (well done, Nick)

    Quote: Who says the next European elections on 4th June don't matter? A big win for the Tories could spell the end of vital EU laws that do so much to protect British workers.

    So says my (my wife's actually) friendly UNISON/Labour Link magazine. Always worth a read.

    So the wider Labour Movement are supporting the recent European Court judgements. Or are they?

    Off topic, but I can't resist it as I shiver in the cold: the same article tells me that, quote, there's no bigger challenge facing Europe than global warming.

    Nothing like a recession to reduce CO2 emissions. Except a depression, which is even better. So let's all support the power workers' industrial action and reduce carbon emissions to zero. There, back on topic again. Confusion, thy name is Labour.

  • Comment number 40.

    The other news this morning is Cameron's initiative on maths education. After all - if British workers are to compete they must be properly educated.

    Unfortunately, Boy Dave has done a Tony Blair - putting a "celebrity" in charge with at best peripheral experience in the real educational world. What's more - her involvement in finance advertisements, encouraging people to remortgage and spend the difference was regarded as somewhat dubious even in the boom times. Now of course it looks even worse.

  • Comment number 41.

    Just to be clear though - there aren't going to be any redundancies as a result of Total's actions, these were extra jobs not the dismissal of British workers in favour of cheaper foreign labour.

  • Comment number 42.

    Since the Laval case, the concept of a minimum wage is now irrelevant. Now it is legal for any company to discriminate against the host's nation's native workers and pay the wage to the foreign staff at the level of of their foreign home countries. Some countries do not even have a minimum wage at all.

    Our elected representatives in Parliament are utterly powerless to do ANYTHING about this, even IF there was any inclination to, which there isn't.

    It is obscene and grossly offensive that it is now legal for employers to legally discriminate against a host nation's workers.

    The ONLY way out of this for the British Working Class is to elect a party that will lead to our withdrawal from the EU.

    It is time that the people of this country, took our country back!

  • Comment number 43.

    What gets to me is Brown's smug remarks about these 'indefensible' strikes. What a joker. This man has said next to nothing about the indefensible actions of the global banking elite. What a hypocrite. Let's get this straight: these men and women are frightened they might lose their jobs. They can't rely on some placement into a quango, or seat in the Lords if they end up without work. They don't have the comfort of knowing that friends in high places will bail them out when their mortgage is due and they have no work. Let's remember who is responsible for this mess: the Blair/Brown/Bush neo conservative elite. Not one of these have any right to lecture ordinary people on how to behave given heir abysmal record over the last decade or so. It's time to say NO! We will not buy into your version of events and we will not let you reinvent your party and the past to suit your ends. We have had enough.

  • Comment number 44.

    For several years Tony Blair was vilified by many, and perhaps rightly so. But do we really owe him a debt of gratitude? For a long time he resisted Gordon Brown's complaints at not stepping aside to allow him to become Prime Minster. Eventually giving in after pressure from Labour MP's and others.

    Since doing so it has become obvious that Tony Blair realised what a disaster for the country Gordon Brown would be and so tried to keep him out as long as he could

  • Comment number 45.

    Nick..i think you fail to understand or you have been given a directive..
    this is just the tip of the iceberg.. i think you will find Nick, that we the British people are absolutely sick and tired of uncontrolled immigration and the direct effect it has had on our infrastructure and daily lives, we are sick and tired of being tolerant and inclusive towards other cultures only to have it thrown back in our faces, we are sick and tired of our British heritage being undermined and vilified, we are sick and tired of political correctness and social engineering destroying the fundamental basics to our way of life and disciplines, we are sick and tired of being told what we think by the media, based on what!!! so called experts and the politicians, you's have not got a clue.
    and we are so sick and tired of this government and gordon brown not listening to us, we have not had a referendum asking whether we want all these EU laws, whether we want to be in the EU, free trade is completely a different kettle of fish,
    Nick we are fed up with the whole blinking shebang. perhaps if you and your like start genuinely speaking for us and not this poxy government, maybe just maybe we may avoid the very worse of the inevitable civil unrest. SICK AND TIRED.

  • Comment number 46.

    The Unions obviously still carry a lot of clout. If Labour have accepted donations/sponsorship money from them, they will clearly want government suppport in return.

    If it's not forthcoming, we may well be on the way to a general strike.

  • Comment number 47.

    Perhaps a bit of social unrest in this country might just wake up our leaders. All still on high salaries, Gordon Brown presided over the collaps of our economy and now presides over the mess.

    For the likes of Peter Mandellson - (who nobody actually elected) to start dictating to us is not acceptable.

    If I hear the word Global once more I will scream -I dont think most of us care about the rest of the world's problems at this moment we care about our own issues and our own workforce, standing at the Job Centre plus office for £60 a week whilst foreign workers take our jobs.

    Wake up everyone no violence but lets get this Govt listening.

  • Comment number 48.

    If a Labour politician had stood up at any point prior to 2000 and declared a strike "indefensible" he would have been pilloried and sunk rapidly from view. Labour have completely lost touch with their electorate. Number 1's comment about "drowning in contradictions" sums them up perfectly.

    However: I actually think dear old Mandy has shown a bit of backbone through this last 6 months. Wherever it was he came from in the first place, he isn't showing signs of Asperger's like Brown, or of terror like Darling. Mandy is actually grabbing some issues and practicalities by the scruff - something I'd never expect to be able to say!

  • Comment number 49.

    The really funny thing for me about this story is the whole "British jobs for British workers" quote.

    Mandelson defended this on the radio by saying that Gordon didn't say "British jobs only for British workers". Fair enough.

    That means that what Gordon was saying was completely meaningless in any binding way and was merely a statement of logical possibility.

    To be specific, Gordon actually meant: "there will be British jobs and British workers and the two sets are not necessarily mutually exclusive".

    In the same way we can examine much of Gordon Brown's speech and determine that he says almost nothing.

    "No more boom and bust" = "There may be instances of boom and there may be instances of bust. However instances of boom and instances of bust will not be coincident and there will be no definitive causal link should there be further instances of boom and also further instances of bust."

    "I am ready to make the decisions for people and to work with other people to make this country the great country it is at all times.” = "I have the capability of decisiveness on behalf of the population of the country that I currently occupy (which may or may not include myself) and the capacity to perform actions, whilst other people perform actions in accordance with and response to my own, with a view to creating the potential for people to use the adjective 'great' in conjunction with this country that people already use the adjective 'great' in conjunction with, this country being the country of my current occupation. This does not necessarily mean that the capability and capacity will be achieved or reached, respectively."

  • Comment number 50.

    A continuation of the dog whistle tactic employed by Brown when he said British jobs for British workers. Now he has various ministers saying anything and everything in the hope that he will that way satisfy everybody. He treats us like fools but he hasn't realised that the game is up and no one believes a word he or his ministers say.

  • Comment number 51.

    This is not about the EU or if British workers have the skills or not. This is about British workers holding a Prime Minister and his Government to a promise of 'British jobs for British people.' If G. Brown could not deliver this then it should not have been said.

    If British workers have not got the skills it is down to this Government who should have invested more into them in the good times. It was not the workers who signed up to any decisions made in Europe. All they are asking for is for G. Brown to keep his promise as Government should do. This is a particularly poor area for jobs, and they rightly want to keep them.

    Leaders of the unions are showing themselves in their true Labour colours by saying this is an illegal strike, they would do anything to keep Labour in power rather than support the working man.

    Well on principle alone they have my support.

  • Comment number 52.

  • Comment number 53.

    Also Nick..who say's protectionism is wrong?, who has asked for this new global order?, the world has traded for hundreds of years.
    And for hundreds of years our countrymen and women have fought to provide prosperity, social justice and SECURITY, for our Island nations and HER people, and we have even fought for others to enable them to achieve the same.
    What on earth makes you (bbc, media, so called experts) and this government think we want to give it all up.
    You may think may think you have succeded in taking away our spirit, but put our backs against the wall i think you will find that the silent seething majority will rise.

  • Comment number 54.

    The issue is the grandstanding of our PM on the subject before he was tested.

    If the government has signed up to a certain law, and Total have followed that law, then there is nothing that can be done. It may mean that the strikes are illegal.

    To me, the main point is the posturing of the PM on the subject before he was tested on it - a test he has failed. A lot of the placards say "UK jobs for UK people" - if he hadn't made that soundbite - he wouldn't be looking silly now.

    Expect a ground shattering announcement from the meetings with the Chinese PM this week - he needs a result.

  • Comment number 55.


    Very good link to The Sun article about migrnat workers but scroll to the bottom and check out the Bank of England commentary...

    Eddie George the previous governor of the Bank of England warned Tony Blair and Grodon Brown the day after their election victory in 1997 that there was a risk in taking banks supervision away from the BofE.

    When are the BBC going to investigate this story and properly prosecute Gorodn Brown for his ridiculous decision to set up the failed Tripartite structure and enoble Fred Goodwin of RBS for strapping on the afterburners.

    The perpertrators of these crimes need to be tried and executed; thye have left us facing an enormous bill to apy for their excesses.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 56.

    It seems we have more to lose than gain here, as our global corporations work in exactly the same manner as Total.

    British based multi-nationals such as Shell go all over the world using their own people - often Brits - to do the work. They then employ English speaking subcontractors and workers - denying many locals jobs. No discrimination - just using the people you know can deliver at the higher levels, then people they can communicate with at the lower levels.

    Companies need to know they can employ the people they rely on to deliver when they are on tender or fixed price contracts. Is it one law for us abroad, another for foreign companies here?

  • Comment number 57.

    If the Labour party had honoured it's pledge to hold an EU referendum, this particular dispute is unlikely to have arisen. But then 'Labour and honour' brings to mind Lords and lobbying, Jowell, Hain, Harman, Straw, Beckett. etc.

  • Comment number 58.

    Moderated for what???

    evry single word was true.

    I am now convinced that the BBC is a mouthpiece for Labour.
    And I feel that the mods are getting drunk ontheir own power, like little hitlers.

    GB says things but means the opposite.
    NR says things but shouldn't believe it
    PM says things but we will never believe it

  • Comment number 59.

    The Workers are begining to realise they are not represented by Labour. The British National Party would put British Workers first. In any other country, for example the USA or Australia, foreigners are only allowed to work if a national could not do the job. We need this too.

  • Comment number 60.

    Has anyone pointed out the fact that TOTAL are, in fact, a French company? They do have international (incl. British) shareholders, but we have 'foreign workers' to thank for the company's existence in the first place.

  • Comment number 61.

    33. At 10:39am on 02 Feb 2009, pilotspeaking wrote:

    ....Finally, has anyone asked the good Lord who he spent Christmas and New Year with yet? Perhaps he "dripped" venom on his colleagues again.


    He enjoyed the largesse of Nat Rothschild again at his villa in Klosters (must be something about the Swiss Alps, twice in one month!), before spending a quick sojourn in Marrakesh, viewing the local attractions!

  • Comment number 62.

    Let it be known that this 'gummint' and its unelected leaders are painting
    themselves into a corner, and many many more people are seeing that the once
    Great Britain has been sold off cheaply and sold down the river by the shower in

    Mandy will become unstuck due to his spinning, and so will Labour.

    This strike is the thin end of the wedge, it will get nastier and explode soon.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have sympathy for people losing their jobs. Getting fired is never a good think but I have no sympathy for people how strike on discrimination grounds for pure own benefit and for something which makes very little economic sense. Until know the discussion has been on what the government did or did not promise but lets just get to the issue here. Should British workers be allowed to be undercut or competed against by foreign workers/ Economic sense would say yes!

    People doing the same job just as well for less money is exactly the same as innovation. I the end the product is the same for a lower cost. The reason companies hire non British people is probably because the non British people do the job better for less money. Or are less likely to strike.

    If British people could do the same job just as well for the same pay I’m sure the companies would have hired them. In the end companies try to make profits and when it makes profits it is because it is efficient and in the end this is the best outcome for all us consumers.

    Workers should not complain about Europeans taking over ‘British’ jobs. British people if they are more efficient can also take jobs anywhere in Europe. It is the workers choice to want a higher pay or want to live in England. If they went for the same or a lower pay than the foreigners or were better at the job than foreigners they would take the job away from them.

    Do not forget, outsourcing in economic terms is exactly the same a innovation or inventing something which does it the same job more efficiently. Why do you think companies hired foreign workers? Maybe it is because they are better/ more efficient and do not strike!

  • Comment number 64.

    And another thing i am sick and tired with the cr*p about the hardworking British men and women being called lazy and unskilled, we are not. Dependence on the benefit system created by this government, over regulation from EU strictly enforced by this government, but not other EU nations, stealth taxes, dumbed down education of our children, lack of responsibility and accountability of those in authority, undermining of our values, i could go on and on .. the point is people will not work if they don't think it's worth it, if all pride is taken away, if what you were working for is being systematically destroyed from with in.

  • Comment number 65.

    Maybe the Health & Safety Exec and assorted other regulatory bodies should take a serious interest in this operation.

    The problem with so much wonderfully-intentioned EU legislation is that - on an everyday basis - it is enforced at national (or lower) level, rather than a supra-national one. Thus everybody who has been further than Calais can regale us with tales of how the French or Italians or Spanish or other demon of choice will disregard laws which do not suit their local or national purpose. Similarly, many Brits who have tried to work in EU countries will regale you with tales of how they are routinely frustrated by the host country's intrasignence regarding equivalency of qualifications, validity of procedures etc.

    Italian job it may be, but legally it comes under UK jurisdiction. If we are to have a level playing field, then it is surely not ureasonable to expect our regulatory authorities to check for undotted "i's" and uncrossed "t's". Legally they cannot be seen to be harrassing our visiting EU colleagues but it is still incumbent upon them to ensure everything is in order. Rather like the old safety-related work-to-rule tactic, it's a safe bet something will be out of line somewhere.

    Get your men out there and check, Broon.

  • Comment number 66.

    36. At 10:45am on 02 Feb 2009, AqualungCumbria wrote:
    One of the major problems is that the Foreign firm can undercut in the bidding stage of a contract because its workers are not qualified to Citb standards.

    I can guarantee there are gangs of workers on the Olympic projects that are not qualified to British construction industry standards with all the appropriate licences but there is no checking taking place,and if there is, the gang just disappear off to another site while the inspector visits.

    Its a bit of a pickle Mr Brown has left himself in how long until the election ???


    You mean like these workers? British jobs for British workers, indeed!

    UK inspectors 'quietly sack' 200 Romanian Olympic site workers

    "Two hundred Romanian construction workers who were helping to build the 2012 Olympic Park have been "quietly sacked" in the past two months during a clampdown on illegal foreign labour, it has been alleged by a senior source.

    They were claiming to be self-employed to circumvent restrictions on employing foreign labour, but inspectors from the UK Borders Agency ruled that they were actually full-time employees of construction firms, and warned that they and their employers faced heavy fines if they stayed on the site.

    The Olympic Park, in east London, is Europe's largest construction project, with a workforce of around 3,000, working for a large number of contractors. The number of jobs on the site is due to double during 2009.

    Yesterday, the Conservatives called for stricter employment checks after it was revealed that nearly one in 20 of the workers employed there in 2008 had been arrested for working illegally."

  • Comment number 67.

    Neither unions nor even protectionisms ha sever done anything to protect higher paid workers from the threat of lower paid workers especially in a fee market of falling demand.

    If cheap labour can not come to it, business will go o cheap labour because it is the easiest way to beat the competition by being cheaper. It always has and it always will be.

    The differentiator has to be skill quality, social stability and environment. In a free market the skill and quality push the see saw in a protectionist environment social stability or lack of it pushes hard too.

    Strikes have rarely solved the problem other than short term and it is sad that the failures of governments to manage around the world are bring them back into focus as a tool for negotiation.

    This is because government and the civil servant especially are not meeting or engaging with the people nor listening to their needs but as usual going on in a they knows best mode, ignoring everyone at the front-end of the economy and social management.

    Well Gordon has at last admitted that he has no plans we are in uncharted water marked by here be dragons so perhaps its time to ask for ideas from the deck hands and the cabin boy before we are all steered completely on to the rocks we keep

  • Comment number 68.

    Don't complain about European Law. Become more efficient as Britons. Reform Industy and educate workers better. Then British workers will be taking away jobs of the foreigners. But in this time of crissis a cheap foreign workforce is not a bad thing it will make Brittain as a nation more competitive and thus Europe more competitive.

    Reform and be the most efficient at what you do and you will make a profit. The most efficient is the most profitable. And in the end the only way a company can survive or should survive is if it makes a profit.

  • Comment number 69.

    Brown saying "British jobs for British workers" was pure weapons grade rubbish as a sop to the BNP.

    He knew that British workers in many marginal constituencies were ditching labour and changing to the BNP. Although the numbers switching were never enough to risk a BNP victory in any seat, the research clearly shows that enough labour voters were leaving to risk tory or liberal victories in some of the marginals.

    This is not even about any moral reason to oppose people voting for the BNP. If it was that, then that would be understandable. The truth is, labour do not mind the BNP getting votes at all, so long as they are votes taken from another party. Labour are more than happy for the BNP to take votes from the tories, but they hate the working class actually having the audacity to think for themselves and voting for ANYONE else.

    This is why Brown cynically, blatantly and contemptuously stole the language of the BNP to try to appeal to the working class. He never ever had any intention of living up to his words. He was blatantly and obviously flat-out lying. He was treating the working class voter with complete contempt.

    Treating the working class voters with contempt has become a repeating pattern for labour these past few years.

    In fact, it looks more and more like labour only want to stay in power to feather their own nests and carry out the wishes of the corporate elite scum that have driven the world's economy to the brink of utter ruination.

  • Comment number 70.

    Brown can't say he wasn't warned about the current unrest!


    "Unions: Labour was warned about jobs for foreigners

    As industrial unrest at foreign-owned companies refusing to hire British workers spreads, it has emerged the government was told in 2004 that EU laws were being used to prevent local people taking up UK jobs

    The government was warned five years ago that European laws governing the employment of foreign workers in the UK would result in the current industrial unrest sweeping the country.

    The revelation comes amid fears that the row is playing into the hands of the far right and claims that similar strikes could affect other key projects.

    The disruption has come back to haunt the prime minister, Gordon Brown, who in 2007 - in his first speech to the Labour party as its leader - promised to bring in "British jobs for British workers".

    The former Labour minister Frank Field last night called on Brown to make an emergency statement to parliament tomorrow. Field wants a new law to compel companies operating in the UK to offer contracts to domestic workers first. "We have got to get ahead of this debate rather than react to it," Field said. "Unless we do, we are supplying oxygen to the BNP."

    Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham, said there was a real risk that "prestige projects", such as the 2012 Olympics, would be hit by similar protests unless ministers acted. At the last count, only 63% of workers on the Olympics site were British."

  • Comment number 71.

    The problem for this government and Gordon Brown drowning in his own cotradictions is the fiscal stimulus is virtually non existent at 1 percent of GDP it is dwarfed by the Americans and even the Germans who resisted at first.

    We don't have the money.

    All of Gordon Brown's promising and undedelivering have left us in this mess.

    Whyt don;t the BBC take him up on the fiscal stimulus? It's a drop in the ocean relative to the banks deleveraging.

    Look at the back of the Economist for the numbers; it is simply too small to amke a difference.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 72.

    Why don't we get politicians from Europe to come over here and let run for Government. I'm sure they could do do it at less cost and do a better job.

    Now if that happened Brown would know what we all think and feel. Labour are a complete joke and are not in touch with the public. They said they would listen and learn but they have done no such thing.

    The sooner old James Brown is out the better.

  • Comment number 73.

    #40 sashaclarkson

    So you are saying that the recession is the fault of Carol Vorderman, are you?

  • Comment number 74.

    The logical extension of the Brown and Mandelson pronouncements is that they would be perfectly happy for each and every British Workers' job to be done by migrant workers.

    Unfortunately Brown and Mandelson cannot see the illogicality in the direction they promote.

    As Brown and Mandy might sing together to the tune of the 'Red Flag'

    'The Working Class can Kiss my @ss
    I've got the boss's job at last'

    It is a bad law that tramples on the natural rights of the People.

    It might be legal for the EU to do such trampling, but it isn't a 'Just Law' if it hurts a qualified British worker.

  • Comment number 75.

    Gordon Brown's speech at Davos has thrown some focus on a quote from Titian.

    Often only quoted in part, Titian said "I'm finally beginning to learn how to paint. I don't know anything about economics, but I can make a mean omelette."

    I am, of course, joking, but you can't libel the dead and I'm pretty sure he would have said it if he'd realised it would become relevant one day.

    For the record, I have no idea about Gordon Brown's omelette-making abilities.

  • Comment number 76.

    It seems to me that when Brown said 'British work for British workers', he was lying yet again and everyone saw through the emptiness of his words.

    If we are part of Europe we all enjoy the right to work in all the other member states. Just because we can't speak their lingo is our problem, not theirs.

    However this is not where the unions are coming from and you Nick, the PM and Mandy should know better.

    The complaint with this current situation is that the jobs at the Linsey Refinery were only given to Italian workers, the jobs were not open for everyone to apply.

    It would be like opening a French Restaurant anywhere in the EU (even in Paris|) and only offering jobs to the French; this is not allowed under EU rules as everyone must be permitted to apply.

    Or put another way, it would be like me starting up a national broadcasting corporation in the UK and advertising for new staff: 'Only New Labour stooges and mouth pieces - Apply within'.

    Not only would this be illegal, it would also be regarded as unfair and discrimanatory.


  • Comment number 77.

    so who will be filling their car at a total garage ?

  • Comment number 78.

    I haven't done an exhaustive check of the comments posted already, so apologies if someone has already mentioned this.

    IMO the danger for this Govt. is that when people start to question their stance on the issues - and see that they're contradictory and ineffectual - they might well start wondering about all the other Govt. statements, and wonder whether they're porkies as well.

    I wonder if this particular crisis is a potential 'tipping point' for this Govt's remaining credibility?

  • Comment number 79.

    The current walkout by Killinghome contractors must have some grounds for the action that we are not beeing told about. For example can anyone explain how you can outbid a comercial rival when you have to fund the accomodation modules at Grimsby as well as all the other factors associated with working away from "home". In the context of these works these are significant costs. Does anyone know if the convoluted EU laws allow bidders for such work to offset such costs into some obscure "social" bucket. Just a Thought.

  • Comment number 80.

    44 piti64

    For several years Tony Blair was vilified by many, and perhaps rightly so. But do we really owe him a debt of gratitude? For a long time he resisted Gordon Brown's complaints at not stepping aside to allow him to become Prime Minster. Eventually giving in after pressure from Labour MP's and others.

    Since doing so it has become obvious that Tony Blair realised what a disaster for the country Gordon Brown would be and so tried to keep him out as long as he could


    I read this and had to read it again. I couldn't believe it.

    I do not, and never will owe Tony Bliar a debt of gratitude, and I suspect many others on this blog will agree. He lied and cheated his way through his term in Office, and the only reason he kept Gordon out is because he was hoping to beat Margaret Thatcher's term of 11 years - and of course line his own pockets on the way there. He now earns 12million a year. 'Nuff said.

  • Comment number 81.

    I am a bit torn on this subject, I think Total has made a mistake and that they have managed this situation badly. I do, however, think that opening the borders is a good thing, I will admit partly for selfish reasons. While I can see why the workers at the Total site are on strike, though none of them were at risk of losing their jobs, well not until they went on strike, I do question why union members at other sites not affected are going on wild cat strikes in support.

    This is at the moment an isolated incident, which the unions and now the media are whipping up till it becomes a national one. I can see two parties getting behind this strike and both of those parties worry me (one I marched against in my early 20’s). I think this situation needs to be resolved quickly before the far right parties get too much from it. It’s a shame the our PM made such a dogs dinner of this and that the Government cannot seem to sort itself out on what to say.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's blatantly clear that these strikes are being orchestrated by the BNP, but mainstream politicians are evidently afraid to mention this, though I did hear David Cameron mention that party in passing this morning on 5-live.
    Far be it from me to encourage anyone to take an interest in the far right, but a glance at the BNP web site has convinced me that they are behind the strikes.

  • Comment number 83.

    Can someone find out where all the wildcat strikes are taking place across the country. Then we can all join in give our support.

    Is there a web site where the information is placed or is it time someone arraged one. Like many people I am presently redundand so if I and the other 2m get our act together we could bring some of our major cities to a halt.

    I am sick and tired of this Govt and its contempt for the electorate. mandelson -unelected and the absolute rotters sat in the lords - loading their pockets while sticking 2 fingers up to the rest of us.

  • Comment number 84.

    #18 Fredalo
    "Which is it? Slim margins or creative accounting?

    Could you find out on our behalf Nick?

    Excellent post and an excellent question. A pity that Lord Mandy wasn't asked it this morning on the Today programme.

    Could the Truck Acts (outlawing company store compulsions) be relevant here?

    Compulsory residence in company housing for the entire duration of a major project seems awfully close to that and entirely unreasonable.

  • Comment number 85.

    #41 chrisleopard

    Just to be clear though - there aren't going to be any redundancies as a result of Total's actions, these were extra jobs not the dismissal of British workers in favour of cheaper foreign labour.

    Chris - cannot argue with this statement. Spot on.

    The problem is that it fails to address the main point. There are many local skilled workers, currently out of work, who could be taken off benefit and given their self respect back by earning for their families again.

    They have not even been given the opportunity.

  • Comment number 86.

    You all need to cast your minds back to the policy under the Conservative government following the miners' strike. When work started on the Channel Tunnel, the Conservative government and the contractors refused to allow British miners, who had lost their jobs in the mines following the closures, to work on the Channel Tunnel. Polish, and other workers were brought in. They were not members of the European Union at that time. There was no protection for British workers, who were described as Lady Thatcher, as 'the enemy within'. They and the unions were powerless. Thanks to EU agreements, there is free movement of labour between states, and there is a minimum wage. This, however only applies to workers from the EEC. If the workers coming in to the UK to do the work are from EEC countries, they have the same rights as the British workers here in Spain, who continue to work while Spaniards are, sadly, unemployed. There will always be winners and losers, that's life.

  • Comment number 87.

    It really is about time Gorgen Brown started telling the truth....I for one would have more respect for Labour & Tories if a concerted effort was made to admit we have our own subprime crisis, and it is time the Police were tasked with bringing the perputrators to justice.

    Secondly, It was enevitable with Labours mass emmigration policy this issue was going to raise its ugly head! It was Brown who failed to sign the restriction that other EU countrys signed against Poland etc when they first joined the EU! This would have prevented us being swamped in the first wave of EU expansion.

    This together with the mass immigration both legal and illegal form other countries should have been stopped in 1997. It seems we pay this politicians well, but they are inaffect useless puppets of party ideologogical thinking.

    British jobs for British people was another slip of the tongue to appease the Labour party faithful......It really is time we started to take control of our own destiny, and do not tell me the French nor Germans are not going to protect their own economies!

  • Comment number 88.

    I do hope that new laws about expelling dodgy peers comes in soon. As well as saying good bye to Archer and Black I presume that we will also be saying good bye to the Business Secretary after his dodgy dealings with money - or does that mean that once again Nu Labour will promise one thing and deliver another.

    If I was a Labour Minister I would be very afraid. If they don't agree with Lord M's view of the world they will surely be doomed - since Mandy wont put up with any dissent and tell Gordy to sack them

  • Comment number 89.


  • Comment number 90.

    It's always amusing to read the rantings of the right wing protectionist lemmings who seem determined to repeat the mistakes of the 1930's which led to a depression and world war. Perhaps it's not surprising - it seems many of the contributors seem to get their inspiration from certain politicians from the 1930's.

    For the workers affected, you can understand thier concern - after all it is their jobs that are threatened. The UK does however have the lowest unemployment level of the major EU economies and has benefited by globalisation and membership of the EU.

    It's difficult for political commentators in these circumstances. Concentrating as they do on supposed differences between what ministers say mean that ministers end up saying very little - commentators have made a huge contribution to the dumbing down of politics by their concentration on the minutae and nuance of the language used by politicians rather than on the substance.

    The most significant political event in the past few days is the meetings between the UK and Chinese PM's, both of whom, unlike many other politicians, seem to realise the dangers of protectionism, for their own countries and the world. The political debate should be about protectionism, not about who said what to who, when.

  • Comment number 91.

    Did anyone see Sky yesterday with that leftie presenter Colin Brazier, with guest slippery Keith Vas?

    Man, they are showing some gall. He basicly spent the time complaining how the far right had misinterpreted "British Jobs for British Workers", soundbited in 2007.
    They didn't seem too worried about the interpretation when the newspapers plastered it on the front page at the time.

    "We'll take credit for what we said when times are good and it worked out, but when the times are bad, well, you just misunderstood it, blah, blah, blah far-right, blah, blah, BNP, blah, Thatcher, blah, blah."

  • Comment number 92.

    Any Italians out there who fancy a job as a moderater at the Beeb!

  • Comment number 93.

    45 tisfedup

    Bang on the nail.

    If Brown and the Tories dont listen about this work problem more and more are going to vote BNP. But at the moment BNP don't seem a bad choice.

  • Comment number 94.

    45. tisfedup

    Absolutely everything you write is correct - but who is listening?

  • Comment number 95.

    Me thinks that this series of strikes is just what the Government did not want as it exposes so much of the 'weak underbelly' of their current stratey. I think GB et al has been taken by suprise on this one but i think it could be his un-doing. In essence, the growth of the European machine is now unstopable and despite the attempts to demonstrate otherwise, Gordon has little or no say in any major business and industry issue when it comes to fair trade and employment or indeed any other matter.

    The banks have run rings around GB and have exploited his weaknesses with ease. "Lets just do nothing and the Government will have to throw more money at us" is clearly their strategy. A great way to get the tax payer to write off their bad debts. "We get fat on running up huge liabilites and get the public purse to get us out of the hole" you can hear them say. Priceless.

    The CEO for Thomas Cook was paid a £5m bonus for shedding 2,500 jobs last year and what happenned? We will pick up the tab for their un-employment benefit. Hold i missing something? I work in the public sector. We are employing so many consultants and advisors, even in the last few weeks can you believe?

    As for the strikes, i really hope they escalate. Never thought i would say that.

    General election time!

  • Comment number 96.

    The Brits should prepare for a rude awakening if they want to go down the british jobs for brits route.

    Most of the hardcore number crunching and IT jobs in the city, engineering and pharma firms are done by none-uk nationals or second or older generation immigrants from the former British colonies (apologies for this un-p.c. word).

    Before I reverted to my dentist back home I once went to a dentist in London and the guy was from Germany.

    During my 7 years in the UK I was astonished by the low level of numeracy that white British university graduates have, even those from business or economics degrees. Also, general knowledge seems quite low and as long as you know to talk about footy you get away with patchy performance. Frankly I'm amazed that anyone from outside the UK who is aware of the quality of UK schools still wants to buy a UK-manufactured car, especially those from the British marques.

    The hotel scene in London would come to a standstill without foreigners. White Brits only go for dayshifts jobs or jobs with high overtime rates, and taxi transfers, like London tube workers. Ever heard a cockny accent in a Pret-a-Manger outlet?

    The UK without foreigeners will be even more deserving of the second world label than it already is.

    Good luck

  • Comment number 97.

    Dear Nick (Et All),

    On a recent trip to Davos, GB stated-

    '.that recessions were a natural feature of capitalism and that they rarely lasted for more than a year or two'.

    So what was all that about-

    'ending boom and bust'.

    Has he just stated he was wrong and this is all part of Nature's plan?

    Roll on 2010!

  • Comment number 98.

    #31 I don't know what programme you were watching from Davos. I watched GB and thought he made a lot of sense. You should read the Times this morning, Gordon Brown is described as having been received with adulation and there is even talk of him being nominated for a Nobel Prize. He is considered to make more sense, by more people, than all the doom laden, know-nothing-do-nothing economists and would-be Chancellors. He must be doing something right. By the way, with regard to another post, the current Nobel Economic prizewinner was referring to American banks in his piece. The position in the UK is entirely different as I'm sure you well know. You can put your own construction on anything, particularly if you have a political motive.

  • Comment number 99.

    44. At 11:02am on 02 Feb 2009, piti64 wrote:
    For several years Tony Blair was vilified by many, and perhaps rightly so. But do we really owe him a debt of gratitude?


    I've seen it all now. So we have to be grateful that Blair not only took the country to God knows how many wars (one of them probably illegal) but kept an incompetent as Chancellor of the Exchequer for 10 years?

    Do you really think this 'Global Downturn' (got to use the BBC parlance - it's actually a depression the likes we have never seen before) has been in the making for the last 18 months?

    It's been simmering for at least 5 years and a case can be made that it goes back to the last century.

    We have to be grateful for Blair? Please, give me a break.

  • Comment number 100.

    Try NOT contradicting a guy who says :

    There are no losers from abolishing the 10p rate

    No more boom and bust

    We are best placed to get through the recession

    British jobs for British workers

    etc etc


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