Sleepwalking to insignificance

Jul 06 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Knocking the French seems to be a popular pastime in the British media at the moment (curious, given the number of British journalists who have second homes over the Channel). But as Anthony Daniels points out in this excellent diatribe published on the Social Affairs unit bog, Britain has little to shout about.

Although no French politician has the guts to deal with the rigidity of its labour market, he argues, no British politician has the guts to deal with its low educational and cultural standards.

The French GNP per head is approximately the same as the British, yet not only do many more of the British than the French actually go to work, but when they get there, they work many more hours than the French. French labour is thus about 25 per cent more efficient than British labour, and if the British are as rich as the French it is only by virtue of the crude and impoverished expedient of working so much.

. . . . There seem to be many fewer completely gormless people in employment in France than in Britain – perhaps they are all at home receiving social security payments. If you go into a French shop, for example, you don't feel, as so often you do in Britain, that the person behind the counter has just eaten a vast pudding that has dulled his or her brain.

Social Affairs Unit | France & Britain: we are both going to hell in a handbasket - but in different ways