Sunday 3 May 2015

The Rise and Rise of Catherine Shuttleworth

Catherine Shuttleworth is the woman who interrogated Miliband on the last Question Time.
First, she is entitled (of course) to express her view of the world from the perspective of what it looks like from where she lives and works. She is 'in business' and her business is doing fine. 
What is interesting is to see how - and why - the tabloid press are interested in making her into a symbol or an emblem.
it's because she fits one the key myths about Britain: that the whole social fabric depends on people like her. The myth says that Britain is the 'nation of small shopkeepers', slaving away as the small cogs, driving the big cogs, which enable Britain to be 'great'. They 'give' jobs to people, pay taxes, fight red tape and lead decent lives.
The enemies of such people, (whether it's something that such people believe or not) are, according to the myth, greedy public sector workers, who don't make anything but just hang about curing, helping and educating people; people on benefits (who by definition aren't entitled to the benefits); trade unions (who are the country's big bully boys, 'pricing jobs too high') and people like Miliband who represent or support these 'interests'.
But is 'small business' what makes the UK economy run? What proportion of the total GDP is 'small business'? How important is it alongside 'big business' and 'finance' and 'the property market'?
But even thinking like that concedes too much. Why are we constantly directed to the owners of business and capital as being the 'representatives' of society? Why don't newspapers show us a public or private sector worker whose wages have fallen in actual or real terms over the last 5 years as 'representative' of Britain? After all, that person would be of a 'type' representative of millions of people, small cogs making the big cogs go round. And isn't their work, their 'labour of hand or brain' which enables small and big business to make a profit?
Without that work, there are no profits. It's not that profits make work. Work makes profits.
So, yes, Catherine Shuttleworth is entitled to express the world as she sees it. But that doesn't mean that that's the world.