As a pre-Christmas treat I've been reading Alan Bennett's latests volume of diaries, "Keeping on Keeping on." I'm happy that I share a lot of his views and prejudices, not least his irritation at being called a "customer" by the railways and local government, and loud mobile phone conversations on public transport and the streets.
For me the issue re-arose recently when, trying to be helpful, I rang my local authority to point out that a replacement lamppost installed on the terrace where I live didn't actually light (it still doesn't). The following letter to my (Conservative) councillor explains the situation.
"Dear Cllr *****,If you've seen the film "I, Daniel Blake" you'll know that it ends with his (posthumous) testimony that he is, among other things, "not a client or a customer. . .but a citizen."
I suggest you put these to the Council. I'm sure there'll be plenty of support from your colleagues in the Labour Party who, even if they haven't yet seen "I, Daniel Blake" will be in sympathy with its messages."
The councillor's reply was bland and fails to engage with the point
Thank for your emailI appreciate your point of view but I disagree residents deserve to be treated with respect and as customers by Kirkleees."
No wonder people are losing faith in politicians
I'm happy to say that a former student from the 1960s agrees with me and writes:
"The reduction of a complex repertoire of social roles - passenger, viewer and listener, student, even citizen - to that of customer is one of the more far-reaching and damaging side effects of neo-liberal economics."