"I'm getting increasingly worried about the free movement of people across Europe. It's a very competitive world out there and my constituents resent that."
- Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman, defending comments he made on Twitter about Eastern European workers.
It was quite fitting that in a week that saw Britain slide into its first double-dip recession since 1975 we also saw evidence - notably from the political left - of the sort of insular bigotry and protectionist narrow-mindedness that one associates with that ugly decade. And if there was any doubt about the longevity of the UK's fragile Con-Dem coalition, its honeymoon period is certainly over now. Nor were the signs of some kind of political unravelling confined to British shores. French voters in the presidential elections shocked markets by a) favouring the socialist Francois Hollande and b) giving almost a fifth of their votes to the far-right extremist Marine Le Pen. In another turn of the sovereign debt screw, Spain was downgraded toward reality. The Dutch government, meanwhile, collapsed altogether. Amazingly, the people of Europe just don't seem that keen on austerity.
Richard Lambert for the FT anticipated Barry Sheerman's nastier musings by a week, in a piece entitled "Why no British staff at Pret A Manger ?" Part of his answer:
"Restaurants, hotels and consumer-facing businesses of all kinds seem to have decided in recent years that young Britons are just not as good as others when it comes to friendly and reliable service, a serious work ethic - or simply turning up on time and on a regular basis."
David Fuller's view Monday May 7th is May Day Holiday in the UK and Ireland so the next Comment of the Day and Audio will be on Tuesday.Back to top