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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside Britain, 6 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Hard Work: Life in Low-pay Britain (Paperback)
In 'Hard Work', Polly Toynbee a middle-class Guardian journalist takes up the challenge thrown to her to live life as one of the many 'working poor'. She adopts the lifestyle of an ordinary, middle-aged woman from a run-down council estate in East London.

Polly doesnt find it difficult to get employment, but the jobs are thankless, jobs that few people will lower themselves to do and the wages are so low that she is in debt from day one. Even getting to interviews, getting to work, supplying herself with a decent pair of work shoes puts into debt. Many jobs pay less than the minimum wage, and of course the banks wont touch her - but the many loan sharks operating on the estate are glad to loan her money - at hugely inflated interest rates. All of the jobs, without fail are hard work, dirty, boring and often dangerous. Polly is offered no training, no benefits, no job security.

This book highlights many many problems with today's society - although written in 2002, I am sure that most of these problems still exist - if not more. Our Government seem obsessed with getting people into work and training, yet the Government has contracted out most of it's public services, for example, hospital portering, public sector cleaners and care givers. By outsourcing this work they have given over this very important work to mainly uncaring employers who are only interested in making as much money as possible and not interested in the people that carry out the work for them - these workers that are being exploited day after day are mainly women, and mainly mothers.

Politicians have no idea of what is happening in low-paid Britain - this book highlights the disgusting state of the 'working poor' - people who work far and above the recommended working hours every week for so little pay and in terrible conditions. These are not people who are living off the state or scroungers - these are people who want to work and who want to provide for their families.

On the cover of this book, Will Hutton writes: 'Every member of the Cabinet should be required to read it, apologise and then act.' How I'd like to imagine that this has or will happen - sadly I doubt it, and this country will continue to exploit it's people - whilst speaking out about other country's human-rights issues.

This is a hard-hitting book that makes the reader realise that oh so many things are hidden from view - it's time that those in power took stock of the state of their own country before spending millions on invading other nations.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Jul 2012 16:07:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Jul 2012 16:09:04 BDT
In making a decision whether to buy this book, I was reading your review (and enjoying it) until I read the 4th para, starting with: "Politicians have no idea of what is happening...". Sorry, but are you serious?

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, was one of the top graduates from Oxford and did a Masters in Economics from Harvard. If you go through the Wiki pages for many of the MPs you shall find how successful these people (the cabinet in particular, but many other MPs and Lords too) have been in their education and careers, they are the ELITE. You think they don't know what's going on?

I really don't mean to sound rude (this is a matter of great importance to me personally), but how naive are you? You honestly think that cabinet ministers NEED to read this book to find out the truth?? You really think that the well-established rumour about MPs not knowing anything BECAUSE THEY ARE TOFFS is true??... They know EVERYTHING because they are toffs. They hatched the whole bloody plot in the first place. They are privileged, and thus educated (properly) and they use this upper hand to deprive EVERYONE ELSE of education and power, even that needed to run their own simple lives.

Personally I hate Labour and Lib Dems and everything they stand for, and if I had to pick a party I would (if I were to vote) lean towards Conservatives...but I don't know enough about them, and I don't trust government full stop. I don't believe in government and I hate politics. In my opinion, it's got to go. So I don't support a party, and I don't vote. People have to be in charge of their own lives, in EVERY single aspect. As soon as you have someone else lawfully running the country, there goes your freedom, your life is now in the hands of that group, and they will only ever look after their own interests. It is inevitable. Humans are FAR too dishonest and selfish to be trusted to look out for other people. I don't care if its Tony Blair or Mother Theresa or anyone else in between.

But if you (or the writer for that matter) seriously think that cabinet ministers are going to "apologise, then act"....then all your suggestion could possibly be met with is the kind of laughter you get from watching an episode of Blackadder.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 23:26:06 GMT
T. S. C. says:
Shushanto, you are absolutely right. The people in power know EXACTLY what is happening to ordinary poor people; they just don't care; that's it in a nutshell.

We are ruled over by a wealthy and powerful elite, and people don't usually do things for other people, they are in the business of keeping their wealth, power and privileges even at the expense of the rest of us. This is reality.
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Lincs Reader

Location: Lincolnshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 99