Listen industry!

25th Sep 2017


I’ve just come back from a week’s leave and a friend of mine suggested some holiday reading, Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal!” which describes the failure of the US Democrats to engage with working-class voters and instead rely on “professional” voters.

It’s a challenging read – not complicated arguments but it is highly critical of two political giants Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I was asked by my friend to examine if there was a read across from the US to the UK, and yes there is to our industry too.

Let me explore further.

Frank’s assertion was that the professional sector organised themselves, using the machinery of the state to protect their interests, with the result that the workers often were at the wrong end of political decisions. And guess what, at the moment this is exactly what is happening within the downstream end of the gas industry.

Behind the scenes (and often behind closed doors) a cabal of organisations – using the argument of government backing – is looking to feather their own nests at the expense of the 130,000 gas safe registered installers. What’s more, few of them actually know about it. The Bonfield Review, ‘Each Home Counts’ was supposed to be industry led. In reality, it is a mate’s stitch-up, designed to make sure vested interest benefits with the ultimate costs being borne by the ordinary installer.

Of course, the perpetrators will have a ready-made excuse, this time “consumer protection”. It’s interesting then, that Gas Safe haven’t taken the lead but another “trusted mark” has been given the role. The outcome will be that installers will pay an additional levy if they want to bid for work funded by government schemes. So government, unwittingly, because they have been told this is industry-led, will be guaranteeing income for another bureaucratic entity, like a parasite, living off the back of the registered gas safe engineer going about their daily work.

In the US they ended up with Trump as President, do we really want the equivalent for our industry?