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Government minister wants British firms to be charities, apparently

This is the headline from today’s Daily Telegraph:

Training and employing British workers is more important than a firm generating profit, business minister Matthew Hancock has indicated.

In the article, the wretched individual goes on to state that his comments should not be seen in the same light as Gordon Brown’s infamous nonsense in favour of “British jobs for British workers”. Well, it certainly looks to anyone with a grasp of language that this man is stating that national origins should count for a lot in hiring, and goes to the extent of saying that choosing a Brit is more of a factor in hiring than whether that person will increase the prosperity of a firm, which is normally why people get hired in a free market.

Ah, I mentioned the term “free market”. Silly me.

Here is some background from his website:

Matthew John David Hancock grew up in Cheshire. He attended Farndon County Primary School, West Cheshire College and The King’s School, Chester. He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Exeter College, Oxford, and gained a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge.

So he read economics, and thinks he knows better than commercial organisations as to whom they should hire.

Matthew’s first job was with his family computer software business.  Later, he worked for five years as an economist at the Bank of England and in 2005 moved to work for the then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

Blow me down – the man had a stint in the private sector! But that did not last long and soon enough, he was working for the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, which is now run by a Canadian governor, so presumably he disapproves of his government’s own decision to take a chance on hiring a foreigner.

This man represents a safe-ish seat in West Suffolk, which is near where I come from originally; he loves horse racing and in many ways I am sure he is a splendid chap, a bit of a Tory “knight of the shires”, as he hopes. But the thudding ignorance of his claim that firms should hire Britons first rather than take the “easy option” of hiring foreigners ignores the reasons why firms are doing this. I assume he realises that firms hire foreigners not just because of costs, but due to issues such as behaviour, character, work-ethic, and so on.

We should of course recall that the Tory party – as it used to be called – was the more protectionist force in the past – as demonstrated by the ruckus caused when Sir Robert Peel scrapped the Corn Laws in the 1840s, triggering a split in his party, and at the early part of the 20th, the attempt to re-impose tariffs caused a similar uproar. On immigration, the position has altered over the years: during Maggie’s time in office, and after, Tories were sometimes (unevenly) quite keen to stress how welcoming the UK is to certain people from overseas, not surprisingly perhaps given that several members of the Cabinet and parliamentary party were the descendants of immigrants (Nigel Lawson and Michael Portillo). It is a shame to see zero-sum thinking return to the party under the patrician, “nudging”, government-knows-best approach of David Cameron.

I hope businessmen give this minister a sharp kick in the shins. Better still, it would be no great loss to see his department closed down.

12 comments to Government minister wants British firms to be charities, apparently

  • Alex

    I would love to see how he defines “British” for the purpose of his argument. I suspect it’s no accident he didn’t. That way anybody from a person who has a reasonable concern about the volume of immigration, to a member of the BNP, can interpret it how they like.

  • Mr Ed

    Why is the notion that one should expect to compete for jobs on merit repugnant to this man?

  • Mr Ed

    To select or to reject a candidate for a job on grounds of national origin, whether holding it or not holding it, is direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and unlawful. Should the Minister be reported to the Equality Commission?

    Actually, Economics at Cambridge may explain a lot.

  • Rocco

    This is disgusting, the man is a disgrace. Further proof that conservatism is socialism in drag.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I’m not exactly impartial right now because I’ve just been passed over for a new job at my employer of 9 years for a more experienced external candidate. I was already massively overqualified for the job, so I shudder to think who they must have hired. The worst thing was I was lead to believe I was pre-selected for the post, so when I was rejected it was devastating.

    Let’s suppose this person they’ve hired is an immigrant. Would this bother me more than it being someone from two towns away? Not especially. What bothers me about this scenario is employee loyalty, and in-house experience seems to count for squat with my employer. That has nothing to do with nationality.

    There’s far too much of this “Rules are rules. It’s nothing personal, mate!” culture in HR these days. Jobs are inherently personal – they are a family’s livelihood and you don’t get much more personal than that. There seems to be a culture in HR departments these days of hiding behind rules and procedures to distance themselves from the moral consequences of their actions. One of the most onerous of these rules seems to be the way equality laws have been interpreted to require all jobs to be advertised. Were it not for that, I’m almost sure I’d have a new job right now…..

    Note that I’m talking about morality, not law. I’d rather be unemployed than my employer was compelled to give me the job. But I do reserve the right to call them amoral jackasses for passing me over.

    Perhaps in the fullness of time it will all make sense.

  • RRS

    Wonder me if this chap ever read anything so mundane as Peter Drucker.

    But then he is of . . . Cambridge

    Which is part of the Contra Keynes and . . .

  • RRS

    After reading the reports in full, pertinent questions remain:

    Where and how do the “non-Britons” (and non-US) individuals attain the skills which require apprenticeships for Britons and which are in short supply in the US?

    Why does this “where and how” not occur in the UK and US?

  • Sorry to hear about that, JV.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    JV, work-related loyalty is famously one-way. Tell the boss what he wants to hear – especially if it isn’t true – and your career will prosper, at least until the company goes TU.

  • veryretired

    Profit making businesses are mean and ishy and demand so much from their employees.

    Non-profit organizations are so much nicer and socially conscious, and don’t worry all the time about making vulgar money.

    What a shame everyone can’t be more cuddly and snuggly and nice. (long tremulous sigh…)

  • Richard Thomas

    JV, you are probably not being paid what you are worth. If they promoted you, they would have to pay you what you are worth and find someone else to fill your position. It’s become the common case that to receive compensation appropriate to your experience, you need to change companies. Staying in one place only benefits the employer it seems.

  • Tedd

    Perhaps Samizdata should create a new post category simply called “Fatal Conceits.”