The Mrs would not allow me to call our son Ebenezer as Scrooge gets an awful press

Tom Winnifrith Sunday 18 December 2016


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I thought it was a good name. Unusual and reminiscent of an era when Britain made things, was a truly prosperous nation and before we all demanded shelter from cradle to grave in the safe space underneath the great Money Tree. But the Mrs disagreed. And so our son is called Joshua not Ebenezer.

I saw a production of the Christmas Carol last week and poor old Scrooge got a really hard time. In the first part of the tale he is a hero, a wealth creator, a provider of employment, the sort of man we can all admire. Then those pesky ghosts arrive and in the space of a night they turn him into a Guardian reading liberal with a spine made of Jelly. The play ends with him giving Bob Cratchit a huge pay rise.

What we are not told is that as a result of pushing Bob up to a "living wage" the firm of Scrooge & Marley got into severe financial difficulties and was forced to cease trading. It was okay for for the Cratchits. With seven kids, the welfare state looked after them and Bob signed up for housing benefit and the full works. With food banks providing all the junk food the family needed, Bob was able to spend the vast welfare cheques on fags and a subscription to Sky TV.

As for poor Ebenezer, he was mentioned as a model employer in a column by Owen Jones and was given an MBE after hiking Bob's pay but when the firm went under there was no whip round at the Guardian.

Instead it called for an enquiry into the dividends Scrooge had paid out many years previously, in better times. Ebenezer was stripped of his gong and died in penury and disgrace.

The moral of the tale is that Ebenezer should have told the ghosts (played by Owen Jones, Polly Toynbee and Keith Vaz) where to stick it and carried on creating wealth as a heroic Victorian entrepreneur. Instead his life was ruined and he ends up a pathetic figure who no right thinking individual can do other than pity.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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