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back to article David Davis: Jobless should dig trenches for fat UK pipes

Maverick Tory MP and former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis used this morning's Times to call for BT to raise an army of unwashed, unemployed oiks to build the UK's next generation broadband network. The story lay behind Murdoch's paywall undisturbed and garnered with just seven reader comments and five "Recommends", until it …

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FAIL

Cameron

Loves your type. The I'm all right Jack brigade, however slightly too dim to realise they're also getting shafted. High unemployment is essential to Thatcherite economics. It isn't an accident you know? It's a policy. Keeps wages low and the employed nervous. Handily enough this makes the extremely wealthy even better off. Oh, that's happening already. By their own standards this government is extremely successful.

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FAIL

Ah...

"Im quite sure if you add up all the benifits that a person recieves and doesnt work, including council tax and rent discounts, add that to their weekly jobseekers and they will be on something akin to the minimum wage, and even if its not, why should we pay for someone not to work?"

You arent paying people "not to work" - the money is provided by the state to ensure a minimum standard of living (which is way below what is acceptable for most people) for those who for whatever reason are unable to find work.

Part time work in exchange for benefits is not a fair system - it drives down the salaries of people who have actual jobs because all of a sudden there is a workforce full of people who are being forced to labour for £64 a week. Surprisingly we have quite high unemployment at the moment, not because people would rather survive on not quite enough money to buy food but because the jobs are not there.

You may be drawing upon the limited experience you have of the unemployed who you see as "doing nothing but getting into fights" but this is not indicative of the wider population.

Now, interestingly, you see unemployment as this easy life where people get loads of money and dont have to work for it but instead you have toiled hard, taken advantage of situations that have been available to you and worked all your life. Why is that?

If it is so easy living on the dole, why dont you do it?

Having worked for *most* of my adult life, I can safely say that the time I have spent unemployed was amongst the most stressful and pressured periods I ever encountered to the point at which I do my utmost to make sure it never happens again. Trying to survive for three months on JSA was almost impossible and destroyed my family to the extent that TWO years of constant work later and I have not yet fully bounced back.

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Silver badge

The rich get rich, the poor get poorer

That's how it goes.

Everybody knows.

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Anonymous Coward

really,

i just did a search for cleaners in my local town, 62 to be exact, from just one web site so why are people not working in them? because many who can work choose not to.

Now dont get me wrong, i do understand, i fell out of school with nothing, i didnt want benifits, i wanted to work and worked my arse off to get up the ladder starting out on work experience andmoving up, i take on work experience kids now to help get people in to work, many of those are great and will go far, some are only doing it to get their money, they dont want to work, they have no ambition, they are doing it to get benifits, end of story.

Some people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, but if you have worked and for whatever reason you cant work then that is what the benifits system is for, im not targeting you, im saying all those people out there that are quite happy to milk the system and not work at all even though they can should be forced to work to one degree or another depending on there physical abilities

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Anonymous Coward

yes but

.... thats the difference, you and i want to work, we want to do things to make our/others lives better.

"for those who for whatever reason are unable to find work."

for whatever reason being the point of my argument, the reason is some choose not too

as i just posted, in my town there are 62 cleaning jobs vacant, why is that if unemployment is so high?

your point of driving down wages of othes is a vaild point, but the work we are talking about here is work that isnt going to get done anyway, no ones jobs would be at stake because no one is working on it, how much better could things be in towns and citys if people who couldnt find private sector work had to work there.

This whole thing is apart of a larger problem with our country and that is how its run and has been run since the First world war and also how generation after generation has come to rely on the state

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Anonymous Coward

oh dear

no really, the dim ones here are those that dont understand that a public sector doesnt generate money, it recycles it, only some gets lost along the way in terms of saves etc

we need to bring money in to the country which is largely done by exports to other countries, the govenment doesnt export much now does it and if the private sector is shrinking then its not going to bring in much either

but thats another argument, the simple fact is that we are spending money on SOME people who choose not to work, so why not make them work for it?

Tell me that isnt true, tell me that everyone out of work cant work, tell me that the 62 cleaning jobs in my local town are not filled because everyone is unable to work?

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Anonymous Coward

Benefits System

Hmm

"Some people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, but if you have worked and for whatever reason you cant work then that is what the benifits system is for, im not targeting you, im saying all those people out there that are quite happy to milk the system and not work at all even though they can should be forced to work to one degree or another depending on there physical abilities"

And how do you propose to determine who is milking the system and who isnt?

Despite what the tabloids may scream, there are more people genuinely claiming benefits than "milking the system."

In my case, because I was able to hold off being forced into a minimum wage job which would have deskilled me, I managed to get back into professional work after a MERE six months. During this six months, however, I lost pretty much everything and had to borrow thousands of friends and family to simply stay afloat. If it had taken me a couple of weeks longer then I would have gone under totally.

Now, rather than being a minimum wage earner, struggling to survive, I am back into the high income tax bracket helping the economy keep moving.

This is, from the nations point of view, a good thing. If I had been forced to become a cleaner then the chances of ever getting back into a decent paid job would have been non-existent.

Is that really what you want for society? As soon as someone's life stumbles, its game over for them? What a caring nation we have become.

BTW - I have just done a quick search and in my town there are 15,300 people unemployed but there are only 24 cleaning jobs. What do you suggest the other 15,276 people do? The total number of jobs on offer - including ones which need specialised skills - is 94. The numbers do not add up. When you consider that cleaning jobs are often transitory with very high turnover, it looks even worse.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Dazzza

I honestly hope you never have to suffer the nightmare that is being unemployed.

Do you believe that cleaning jobs are so menial and trivial that anyone can do them and anyone made unemployed should be forced to do menial labour no matter what their previous skill sets were?

There is so much fail here, I am not sure where to start. There should be a crying softly in despair icon on El Reg.

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Anonymous Coward

actually

the cleaning job was just one i selected from the wee drop down list, it happened to be just at the bottom of the viewable list, ill try some other ones if you want, im in no way discrediting cleaners at all, infact i hold them in higher regard then many of the higher earners out there, but thats a different conversation

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Anonymous Coward

@Dazzza

In my experience people who can't be told anything are the ones who uncritically believe what they read in newspapers (it's what's called a paradox.) So I'm probably wasting my time here, even if you aren't a troll. Still, here goes:

If you were in a supermarket, innocently stocking up on frozen pizza, and the security staff decided that somebody was definitely shoplifting, but they didn't know who it was, would you be happy to be sentenced to an open-ended Community Service punishment because you were there at the same time? (Clue: only an idiot would answer "Yes" to that.)

62 cleaning jobs in ONE town? Wow! Could you tell us how many hours a week that comes to? Would I be right in thinking something like 620? That is equivalent to 18 full time jobs. Except that it isn't. Nobody who needs a job can afford to work part time for a little more than the minimum wage. They would have to be looking at something like £20 an hour. If cleaning paid that, there would be a stampede into it from other professions.

If you choose to hold your breath until that happens, I, for one, will applaud your decision!

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Anonymous Coward

The devils in the detail.

Sounds like standard Keynesian economics to me - according to the economist J.M. Keynes when the economy is tanking , governments should spend money on infrastructure projects to kick start things.

David Davies is actually being a "wet" - a Thatcherite tory would be preaching from the book of Milton Friedman who espouses that the free market should be left to sort it out (i.e leave the unemployed to starve so that they are forced to find a job at any price)

I don't know how many of the readers of El Reg saw the recent BBC4 documentary about the national grid, but a large chunk of that was built during the 30's depression, and in the states FDR's new deal spent large amounts of money on public works projects to kick start the US economy. The idea being that the projects allow you to get large numbers of people working relatively quickly , they can pick up skills , and the country ends up with something better than people paid to watch Jeremy Kyle.

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Pick and shovel - not in Cumbria

Not sure exactly what this MP has been smoking, but BT (or company working for them) actually laid a very long fat pipe through Cumbria a couple of years ago - not sure if we ever got any benefit mind you.

However, despite the number of green fields and such, they laid most of it along the A6 digging said road up in a long and not very straight route. I really wouldn't want to put anyone who's not had the proper training behind the machine they were using as it looked pretty dangerous, especially on the bit where they were feet from a 100 foot drop!

So unfortunately doubt this pick and shovel plan will exactly work unless you include pickaxes and then that's going to take a very, very long time.

If he thinks Cumbria is hard, imagine what happens when you hit the granite rock in Scotland!

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Silver badge

And a solution to the traffic problem

There was some other politician that forced all the unemployed to build lots of those newly invented fast express roads. He thought it was a good way to regenerate a f***ed country with a worthless currency.

Shouty little guy with a mustache.

Wonder whatever happened to him ?

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unpaid, unemployed

The problem is what would get these companies hiring if they can get free labour??? Why use JCBs, skilled/fully trained workers when you can just used unemployed and the next logical step would be to use prisoners then the average person would not be able to get a job or wouild have to work for next to nothing to get work.

Invest the money in broadband country wide and force teh companies to hire people to do the job rather than taking the money and running

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Unhappy

and after 349 years

nothing has changed at all :(

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diggers

Knowing BT they will use the Intra-Company Visa system to bring in "staff" from a non-EU country where staffing costs are much less

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Silver badge

Forriners

Sometime back there were BT engineers in London doing nothing following the big 'reshuffle' so to improve matters they brought in BT engineers from Wales to do exchange upgrades.

London wages, paid accommodation and food, free weekend travel to go home (overtime included), overtime pay, allowance for working away from home and others. We were not bitter at the imported labour but the way that BT had decided to try and cause trouble between workers. Management were even telling the Welsh guys to not talk to us locals.

The thin end of the wedge felt rather uncomfortable.

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FAIL

Fat pipes for fat communications between fat computers...

Hows about some techies putting their heads together and finding out how to build computers and linkages that didn't contain and transact so much bloated data...???

The big IT companies just seem to have conveniently forgotten about this objective, perhaps because they persist in adding more and more layers to 40 year old outdated concepts.

Given that scenario, we would be able to worry less about the scammers in both the criminal and government underworlds that want to rob us of our hard won cash and freedoms. We would be able to communicate privately and down thinner, pre-existing pipes.... You know, the way we used to!

David Davis is 37.

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FAIL

This title is unemployed

Get them to dig a ditch from Lands End to John O'Groats.

The have them fill it in again.

About as pointless as the original suggestion.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Another UK politician reveals how stupid they can be

Laying cables today often involves ploughs and pigs.

Ploughs, designed for cable laying, can dispense armoured cable straight off a reel to a depth of about 1.5 metres, dependent upon the type of soil or the lack of it.

Pneumatic 'pigs' are devices shaped like a torpedo, in which a reciprocating weight, driven by compressed air, that can make holes under lawns and roadways in minutes. Think of it like a piston from car that is designed to strike the top of the cylinder, and kinetic energy drives the 'pig' forward. Some are 'steerable' within limits.

The problem has been, in the past, that the former BT entity always went the 'gold' route with cable conduits being installed (remember those 4 and 6 hole pipes?) and their conformity tested by dragging a test piece through them to ensure it didn't get stuck.

Canada has had thousands of kilometres of all sorts of cables laid by ploughs. Even undersea cables are ploughed in to prevent damage from fishing tackle.

The 'drops' to premises can be pre-manufactured so field work is minimised and limited to feeder connections in street distribution boxes.

Maybe the unemployed Davis has in mind can be used to make tea or coffee or roll the spools of cables around. Certainly they are not need for digging holes.

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Coat

The BT spokeswoman said...

"We're currently passing 80,000 premises a week"

I bet that'd make your eyes water...

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FAIL

@Darren Tuffs

"you want benifits? well you can work for them like the rest of us do, you might learn a thing or two which you could put to good use else where, it would also show potential employers that your not completely stupid."

The quality of English here is, frankly, deliciously ironic.

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Could I Add Some rational Thoughts please

Sorry guys but you are letting your political positions cloud your judgement, for all his faults, David Davis is trying to promote a sensible discussion. Trying to shout him down from your positions of self interest is not going to achieve anything.

The UK has an antiquated, predominantly copper based, telecommunications network. This is not the fault of the current Government, nor can the blame be laid at the feet of any particular Government in the last 50 years. Like the UK's drainage system, what little we have is derived in concept from the foresight of our grandparents.

If there is one person who can be blamed for exacerbating the problem its probably Gordon Brown. Those of you in the comms industry will recall the 3G licence auction where in the feeding frenzy a rather misguided BT bid £23 BILLION for the licence. This came near to breaking BT and is why they have not been able to afford the cost of widespread infrastructure renewal.

A more foresighted Chancellor with his PM Blair would have said to BT " OK we will take just the £3 billion we expected and you will spend the other £20 billion on the infrastructure renewal. Instead Brown just pissed it up the wall along with a few hundred more billions.

The UK needs an optic infrastructure, not so much for where we are now as give or take a bit the system just about copes. But to go forward we desperately need greater capacity.

Lets explore just one small example, with universal high speed high capacity broadband high definition video conferencing becomes a reality. There is then significantly less need to travel for business or leisure, less fuel, more time, more efficiency, Oh and no need for the proposed £30 billion expenditure on a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham so its actually self funding.

yes the installation would generate some jobs during its implementation but not many, although those created would be for the problem area of employment, the unskilled.

It would however be the catalyst for new small businesses that would not of necessity need to be in large towns and cities, and its in this area that many new businesses and employment would be created.

Oh, by the way I have been part of the IT & Communications Industry since 1970.

So don't just snipe at poor old David Davis, he is at least trying to open a debate

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Pirate

And your political position?

Where did you get the £23 Billion figure from? The entire auction only raised £22 Billion (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/may/14/regulators.telecoms), which Gordon Brown "pissed up the wall" by paying off the national debt (Bottom of P18 in http://economics.ouls.ox.ac.uk/11891/1/biggestsept.pdf )

Gordon Brown can be accused of many things, but forcing BT and others to pay through the nose for a 3G licence is not one of them. It was an open auction for a limited good. The price paid was determined by good old supply and demand - that cornerstone of capitalism. If you can't afford the price, you don't buy it.

What you can accuse Gordon of was spineless capitulation in the face of bleats of poverty from the 3G bidders. Imagine if the monolithic, monopolistic BT had been forced to split OpenReach from its retail arm? We could have a truly independent back-haul provider with an incentive to provide quality commercial broadband to all ISPs.

David Davis isn't opening a debate, he's playing to the nasty wing of the Tory Party. Peddling the myth that living on the dole is somehow luxury, while claiming expenses from the tax payer for things no private-sector employer would consider for a moment.

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Anonymous Coward

Political irony

So, showing you have no political axe to grind here, you write:

"A more foresighted Chancellor with his PM Blair would have said to BT " OK we will take just the £3 billion we expected and you will spend the other £20 billion on the infrastructure renewal. Instead Brown just pissed it up the wall along with a few hundred more billions."

Very unbiased of you eh?

More importantly are you suggesting HMG should have said to a public company, we dont want you to pay what you have bid cos we think it is too much?

How does that make a free market? Why not privatise BT again and then control where the money goes? Oh yeah, cos apparently that was bad.

Companies cant have their cake and eat it. They take risks and if they f*ck up they should suffer otherwise the market is a joke. As long as they are happy to reap the profits in the good times, they should suffer the pain in the bad times. What else is fair?

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Anonymous Coward

Where would the unskilled dig?

Given that there is billions of pounds worth of easily damaged infrastructure under roads and pavements, this scheme could create more new work than was originally scheduled. Let the same people loose on that, and the whole thing could spiral out of control and the country disappear under backed up sewage as power and telcommunications go down (with the only source of light being plumes of burning gas from fractured mains.)

Or am I being alarmist? Isn't this just a case of Purnell's Law which says that *any* politician ignored by the media for a sufficient time will eventually say the unemployed should do other people's jobs?

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