Alexander Chancellor's almost-beyond-parody article in the Guardian today is an early contender for the much coveted 'most smug and wrong column of 2009'.
For those who haven't seen it, he starts by revealing that he lives in an enormous house which is a mile away from the nearest road, and then goes on to slag off British workers who call in sick when they should go to work, based on an anecdote about a journalist and "research" by, um, Benylin. Instead they should have the work ethic of Americans (and his
There are times when people don't turn up to work because they don't feel like it, but in fact a bigger problem is when British workers do the opposite and turn up to work when they are in fact unwell, out of fear that they will be disciplined or even get the sack. And far from being workshy, British workers work long hours and on average put in several hours per week of unpaid overtime. It's like the moral panic about people claiming benefits which they are not entitled to, when in fact there is vastly more money which people are entitled to but don't claim than the amount of benefit fraud.
As for "the work ethic of the Americans", bosses in America have far greater powers to bully or victimise workers who take time off when they are ill.
It is still early days, and there are a number of strong contenders who will be seeking to trump Chancellor for both smugness and wrongness, but there is something really nauseating about the Guardian offering this idiot a weekly column to write this sort of uninformed drivel.