I'll admit it. I'll go on record and say that I wouldn't consider myself to be hardworking. If future employers or future clients are reading this, then I'm sorry, but I'm not going to lie. I am many things, but I am not one of David Cameron's hardworking people. And most probably neither are you. Your sense of entitlement might drive you to think you're hardworking, but you're probably not. Are you reading this at work?
For most of the day, I'm sitting on a comfortable chair (there's a guy that comes to the office and shows us how to sit in our chairs, by the way), with air conditioning/central heating (delete seasonally) keeping my environment at a pleasing ambient temperature. An Internet connection and a keyboard enable me to communicate with millions upon millions of people in a second. I can even tell Hootsuite to tweet on my behalf while I'm asleep. Some of my best tweets went out while I was asleep. Checking facebook is part of my job. Facebook. That's how hardworking I am.
The dignity and honesty of good, old fashioned hard work has been hijacked and turned into doublespeak for "not on benefits." "Hardworking" is a brand. The hardworker is this year's "striver."
"Hardworking families" is an empty slogan. It carries no substance. There are almost a million people who work and claim housing benefit. In fact, only 1 in 8 of all benefit claimants are unemployed. But these are not the hardworking families we're being asked to root for. These are the people incorrectly accused of contributing to a culture of worklessness as recently as 2012. The genuine hardworkers and grafters are often the ones that need that bit of assistance because actual hard work, the sort nobody really wants to do, is low paid.
Rhetoric of this type is designed to breed resentment, to foster unquestioning support for old-fashioned ideologies; saving, never borrowing, owning one's own house and so on. It's the perfect way to stigmatise the poor and unemployed. We're experiencing a cost of living crisis and we're using the mythical valour of hard work as a stick with which to beat people.
It's the sort of rhetoric the thickest, most zealous idiots at your office fall for. Know someone who has a little cry about paying tax so "benefit scroungers can buy iPhones?" This is for them. Know someone who says "but they can all afford big flat-screen tellies" when the subject of benefits comes up? This is their rallying cry. It's the sort of phrase simpering dullards like Rachel Johnson use day in day out.
It's a damaging, patronising and misleading turn-of-phrase and you should deplore its common usage.
Need help to pay your rent? You're not hardworking enough. Stop being idle.
Got a spare room you're not using? Give it back. Spare rooms are for hardworking families.
Want a government-underwritten mortgage to buy your first home? Of course you do, you're a hardworking family. You do the right thing and get on. You deserve to own your own home.
Need help with childcare? We'll see to that. You need childcare so you can go to work and be hardworking. Here's that subsidy I promised you if you continued to be hardworking.
Hardworking? Compared to your milkman or the guy my landlord pays to clean my garden, I'm pretty much dossing like it's the last day of school. Most of the mistakes we make can be Ctrl-zedded out of existence in a second. The genuine hardworking people, the ones with rough hands and chronic back problems from decades of manual labour, the ones who spent their lives down the pit, or digging the roads, aren't going to be swayed by daft rhetoric like this.
No sir, I am not hardworking. I know plenty of people who are, but I don't think Osborne, Cameron and Milliband's definition of hardworking involves them. The most hardworking people I know don't stand to benefit from George Osborne's budget promises of lower long haul air passenger duty. In fact, the hardest working people I know have never flown long haul.
There's an entire section of the Labour website devoted to hardworking families. Just think how much empty grandstanding Ed Miliband can do with that.
We might not be as hardworking as we'd like to think, but we're working more. More than a million of us need a second job to keep our heads above water. When there's a race to the bottom, it pays to glorify hard work. Why else would "Work Hard for the Kims" be such a ubiquitous refrain in North Korea?
So we're working more. Record numbers of us have second jobs. But the reason we're working harder (more) is because the cost of living has gone up. Let's not glorify that.