There has been much talk since the referendum about the needs of the poor white working class and how they have risen up in revolt to vote for Brexit and for Trump. That is exactly what it is. Talk. When it comes to actually doing anything to help there is silence. We haven't heard anything from Theresa May about actually doing anything constructive to help. And if you are a woman in the workforce or, heaven forbid, happen to have been born abroad and worked here for years then forget it.
How hard is it to ban zero hours contracts? How difficult can it be to pass a law saying any contract which a jury believes is an attempt to bypass workers rights legislation will attract prohibitively expensive fines? How hard is it to tighten legislation about artificial self employment so that any employer using this to cheat their workforce is heavily fined? Any government with serious intent to help the poor working class could wipe out zero hours contracts and enforce existing rights legislation overnight. It would help out over 4 million people who are in no position to argue with their employer because they need the work but have no meaningful rights whatsoever. Instead of doing this May's government seems overjoyed by the prospect of scrapping even more workers rights when we exit the EU. And, of course, she is determined to supply taxpayers cash free of charge to Southern Rail in an attempt to crush an organisation that has dared to try and stand up to attempts to worsen the conditions under which people work and passengers travel.
The other thing that is happening over Christmas is that a lot of poor people are getting themselves into festive debt. It must be incredibly hard not to be able to buy your kid the present they want or to afford to put a decent Christmas meal on the table for the family. Day after day adverts are shown on the TV encouraging those who are just about managing to take out a lovely new loan. My least favourite example is Amigo. You get a family member to guarantee to pay off your loan - thus creating minimum risk for Amigo. Then they charge you 50% a year. Apparently that is now a modest rate of interest and is kindly offered by the company because it is certain to get its money back from your relative. With friends like that ....
In my youth this sort of deal was offered by dangerous loan sharks who broke your fingers if you failed to pay up. These days the deals are advertised on prime time TV and the people offering you the deal work in lovely offices and own nice homes in the suburbs. The effect of the ludicrously high interest rate is obvious. It takes money away from people who are dirt poor and it puts it in the pockets of hedge fund operators.
If May wanted to help those just managing payday loan companies would be an easy target. This is something that could be banned quickly and easily. It is even simpler to ban any advertising encouraging people to take out a loan in any form and back up that law with legislation that penalises heavily any scheme that a jury deems is designed to dodge the legislation. May won't do anything of the kind. She prefers to talk about those just managing rather than do anything. She will do even less to get the wider banking system used to making sensibly priced loans to small business instead of using the deposits of ordinary people to secure gambles on obscure financial derivatives. Yes - all that nonsense really is back and our government really did give away billions to rescue banks without getting proper structural reforms or any compensation for those ordinary people who lost out on pensions, savings or investments.
So I would like to send a message of Christmas cheer to Theresa May. But despite it being the season of goodwill I don't feel very charitable towards someone who lies about what they intend to do and then does the exact opposite. So instead I think I'll stick to sending her a message that is in line with another good British tradition at this time of year.