Friday, July 01, 2011

How have we even had an immigration debate without Roger Daltrey's opinions being canvassed?

Roger Daltrey has a had a wonderful career - a bit of performing in Australia, a bit of acting in America, some fish farming in the UK. He's surely a big fan of the idea that people should be as free to sell their labour wherever as he has been, right?

No, of course not.

Daltrey, now 67, has told how the influx of thousands of immigrant workers from the rest of Europe during Labour’s 13-year reign left the indigenous working-classes unemployed.

The star told how the last government left ‘the British working man screwed like he'd never been screwed before by cheap labour coming in from Europe.’
It's unclear if Daltrey has got his first-hand knowledge of "the British working man" from experiences on his massive country estate, or at his chi-chi London home. Or, possibly, from his other home in America.
He went on: ‘We do need immigration, but surely it should be a level playing field where they can't undercut every working–class bloke in England for their jobs.’
That might sound like an attempt to be reasonable, but really just goes to prove that Daltrey's grasp of economics is a weak as his voice is loud. He seems to be blaming immigrants for being willing to work on a low wage, rather than the employers who choose to pay as little as they can get away with. In fact, Labour did help a little with this - they introduced the minimum wage without which it's probable that wages would have been driven down still further.

It's telling, though, that Roger doesn't want wage rates to be driven up by expecting employers to pay more to everyone - instead, he just wants to somehow have a "level playing field". But given that there's a marketplace in which everyone is already competing equally, isn't what he really asking for is an unlevel playing field?

Still, Daltrey is an equal opportunities blowhard:
However the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government were not spared his ire either, with Daltrey adding: ‘The quality of our politicians is tragic.’
I've read this article a couple of times, and can't seem to see the point where Daltrey offers to do any better.
Daltrey also had harsh words for the machinations of the NHS.

The star has long been involved in charity the Teenage Cancer Trust. As a result, he has experienced the workings of the NHS.

He said: ‘You suddenly see the enormity and complexity of it, and the truth that no one wants to accept that there's nobody in charge.

Everyone knows it can't carry on, but you can't touch anything in the NHS because the nurses are in their trench, the doctors are in their trench, the unions are in their trench – it's the First World War.’
It's not enormity - that means 'great evil', you booby. Daltrey's description of the NHS sounds less like a considered opinion and more like someone who has half-read a Daily Mail editorial and then half-downed a pint of Old Peculiar. The problem is not that you can't touch the NHS, it's that politicians can't stop touching the bloody thing. Seriously, there are teenage boys who are better at hands-off than the Department Of Health.

Daltrey doesn't offer any actual definition of what these problems are beyond his broad-brush claims that nobody is in charge, which makes it seem even more likely that he's just churning talking points from the press that he doesn't really understand very clearly.

Still, if he's so sure that politicians are all crap, I look forward to his doing the decent thing and running for office. Maybe then we'll actually get to hear some ideas about how to fix things instead of the moaning of a very rich man.


Mikey said...

What is it about singers that makes them think they're entitled to lecture the rest of us about politics?

The thing about politics is, the closer you look at an issue the more complex it gets. No issue is black-and white. The bigger the question, the more fractal layers of complexity it's likely to have.

So when people like Daltrey, or Bono, or Paul Weller, or any one of a million others who have only an electric guitar to distinguish themselves from the other saloon bar bores speak out they only manage to make themselves look foolish. well as of course the credulous fans who think they need to ape the dress sense and rosette choice of a person merely because they like some of the songs they sing.

Anonymous said...

well, as Simon says: "Daltrey's description of the NHS sounds less like a considered opinion and more like someone who has half-read a Daily Mail editorial and then half-downed a pint of Old Peculiar." There are many such people as well as many a great deal worse. Some of whom are in the comments thread below the story. But these people aren't newsworthy because they aren't Roger Daltrey. I'm sure even if, I dunno, Barry from Mogwai blogged that "let us put the blame where it lies - that is, the door of Blair and Brown and 13 years of open door policy letting in all and sundry, crimials, terrorists etc" then he would get a mention in the Mail.

Francis said...

e·nor·mi·ty –noun, plural -ties
1. outrageous or heinous character; atrociousness
2. something outrageous or heinous, as an offense
3. greatness of size, scope, extent, or influence; immensity

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

As with "decimate", there's a precise and valuable meaning which is worth preserving. I don't know what dictionary you're using there, but it's wrong.

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