It started with Jon Cruddas and I going down to the Guildhall in the City of London with the Billingsgate porters, all dressed in their whites and boots, to protest against the fact that the Corporation of London was taking away their civic inheritance. The court of common council was voting to abolish \”the fellowship of the Billingsgate porters\” which has been recognised since 1632.
They\’re a closed union shop, an hereditary medieval guild. How bleedin\’ conservative do you need to be to try and argue in favour of the retention of something like that? Even the Conservatives don\’t do that any more!
Even the Conservatives don’t do that any more!
Er, actually Tim, they do I’m afraid.
“John Hayes, the skills minister, cited Richard Wagner’s opera, in which the drama takes place in and around a guild of poets and musicians in the 16th century. He said the guild system was at the “heart of my thinking”.”
We’ve been rebuilding the guild system for some time now. Electricians were made a guild under the infamous Part P of the Building Regs, for instance.
It’s full steam ahead back to the Middle Ages.
Damn, my HTML-fu fails 🙁
Hmm. I’m quite happy to have a system of compulsory training and certification for the person who wires my house – I like it not being on fire. For lugging fish about, on the other hand, it’s obviously a moronic mediaeval hangover.
Which means I’m agreeing with the Tories and slating a Labour MP. Freaky, man.
Tim adds: Labour peer John. The one who determined that since they wouldn’t make him Baron of the City of London then this showed that The City were all bastards or something. Not realising that The City is actually, status wise, a county, so as a mere Baron he can’t take that title. Earls and or Dukes for that I think?
Hmm. Well, speaking from experience. I trained as an electrian. Not one any more, but I was.
When I trained, it was impressed upon us that the regs were entirely advisory. You were free to extemporise, or ignore them completely. If you had a good reason for it. We learned how to do calculations from first principles, which sometimes gave conflicted with the regulated advice. It was very much, “use your initiative”.
But still, no law required any training at all. Anyone could do electrical work. And indeed, did. This is good for teh economy. It keeps the market open, and allows people to do cheap DIY jobs. Not any more.
So anyway, why did people follow the regs when they were just advisory? Well, they were good regs generally (if a little obsessed with caravan parks and swimming pools, a running joke) and insurance companies want compliance, and they were a de facto standard.
It worked very well.
Under Part P, it is now illegal for me, a qualified and highly experience electrician with years of experience of both installation and maintenance of very large installations, to put a new socket outlet in my kitchen. Unless I pay more money than it is worth me to the Guild, for certification. The fact that I have C&G certificates of training is irrelevant. To do any non-trivial work, I must pay the Guild an annual fee. This is not progress, is it?
So, it’s now a closed shop. Of course, those electricians in the guild like that. They always do. That is the point of guilds. And people will use the safety argument. Ho hum.
The truth is, household electrics is not difficult. Even bad installations rarely cause fires. Many “electrical fires” are due to age, or overloads of various types. There are still houses out there wired in the 1940s, with no earth on the lighting circuits. I can state that from personal experience.
There’s no evidence that guilds improve standards. What they do do is restrict the marketplace, and push up prices, and thus capture “rents”.
I have sometimes wondered whether one reason that electrical installations are safer than gas is that electricians often seem to be chaps of better intellect and character than the chancers of so many other trades. We once had an electrician who was an Elder of the Kirk. Whereas friends of ours bought their house from a gas fitter; it turned out that he’d installed his own central heating with potentially lethal incompetence.