Unemployment’s down? I blame the government

Just a quick one. You know how the media can usually tell you some kinds of news before it’s happened? Like – “Cadbury’s are expected to accept Kraft’s offer” means “Cadbury’s is dead, long live the Kraft subsidiary”?

Well, this morning I was listening to Today (I’m not usually up in time, so this is basically me showing off that I got a working alarm clock), and when I left the house at half eight the news was “Unemployment is expected to have risen again”. It wasn’t until lunchtime that I found out that, in fact, unemployment fell by 7000 in the three months to November. It’s almost as though the measures the government introduced to soften the blows of the recession – investment in the Jobcentreplus, incentives for employers hiring new staff and guaranteed employment or training for the young medium-term unemployed – were effective. Or, as you might say, Labour Is Working.

Contrast this with the Tories’ recession. It’s surprisingly easy to forget, but in 1992:

– unemployment in the North West was 45% higher than it is now
– over 13000 people were unemployed in Salford
– over 36000 people were unemployed in Manchester – twice the current level.

These figures should be repeated and repeated and repeated every single time the Conservatives dare to criticise Labour’s handling of the economy. We were hit by the challenge of a global recession and we responded with measures to get people back into work as quickly as possible; and to save their homes; and to get them the best help and advice. When the Tories faced the same challenge they let thousands upon thousands of people sink; and if the response to the credit crunch had been left up to them they would have done the same again. It’s something that we, and the Tories, and most importantly the voters, must never be allowed to forget.

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7 thoughts on “Unemployment’s down? I blame the government

  1. You have to invest in the economy and that means investing in public services. There is a drop in unemployment, but what, precisely, does that mean? Is it a start of a trend? There isn’t enough time to analyse the data as there is an election coming up. And let us not forget that ALL the parties are indulging in the race to the bottom politics with swingeing, vicious and savage attacks on the public sector. Unemployment will rise, lets be clear on that.

    And the incentives NL are pushing are not not real incentives (frankly, I hate that word along with the other fave…’aspirations’) but Workfare. The 21st century version of the 19th century workhouse.

    Why did this recession happen? The economy was based on debt along with an adherence by NL with neoliberalism. That’s why the economy crashed and burned and it is working class people who are suffering, and NL’s response is piddling and insulting (Welfare Reform Act…? Draconian and offensive).

    Where is the investment in the economy via the public sector and socially meaningful adventures not policies that don’t even scratch the surface? I think you should have a read of the LEAP/LRC policies http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/policy/leap/ which are excellent re economy and also give a Socialist viewpoint. And as a Socialist feminist who has been a member of the LP for over 25 years it appals me witnessing the viciousness and vileness of the politics of NL and neoliberalism shafting working class people.

  2. I’m not sure the actual policies in place fit in with your narrative.

    ‘Golden hellos – employer incentives worth up to £2,500 to recruit people who have been unemployed for more than six months, including in-work training for new starters

    A guaranteed job offer, work placement or training for all 18-24 year olds who have been claiming Job Seekers Allowance for 12 months

    Funding to create new jobs, including investment in housing, low-carbon initiatives and infrastructure projects generating employment for 15,000 people in 2009-2010. Local Authorities in unemployment hotspots across the country will receive extra funding to create 50,000 jobs.’

    I appreciate that’s not guaranteed employment for everyone hit by the recession, but I don’t see the resemblance to the workhouse.

  3. My narrative? What kind of jobs are we talking about? Work placement is the start of ‘work for your dole’ scheme. That’s Workfare! Sorry but that’s the 21st century version of the workhouse.

    You need to have an analysis of what sort of jobs exist in this society, the free market will not create socially useful jobs. The free market is about cheap labour and commodification. It is inevitably patronising if you use a behavioural approach to the people at the bottom of the social and economic pile. What about their narratives? And last two Welfare Reform Acts were based on a behavioural analysis and culture of dependency i.e. ‘it is your fault you are poor’… There was no social analysis of how the economic system works.

    Have a read of the Welfare Reform Acts, Hansard re debates in Parliament and also the New Deal…and then tell me and other claimants, lone parents, disabled people, people who are being shafted by NL that these are not the beginnings of Workfare…. What Jon Hutton, James Purnell and Yvette Cooper started and are continuing disgust me beyond belief! The Tories will finish off what NL started and yes, this does fit in with my narrative, it is called realism and how these hideous policies affect working class people.

  4. I agree there’s an unfortunate reliance on the private and third sectors, and there’d be a lot more job security for a lot of people if so much public sector work hadn’t been outsourced. I also agree that work trials are exploited by some employers.

    But I still don’t understand how anything the government has done to deal with the recession can be described as shafting the working class. Surely the ‘hideous policy’ of guaranteed job offers has the effect of…well, someone getting a job.

  5. Current unemployment figures are a pretty moot point. The civil service payroll has increased by just under 1 million under Labour. Thanks to Brown’s woeful handling of the economy, we now have a monstrous budget deficit, which will threaten future growth.

    So big in fact, that to “grow” our way out we would need roughly 30% growth in the economy over the next 5 years. Which has never happened, and unlikely ever will.

    Labour knows it can’t keep sepnding this way, but certainly won’t start cutting till forced to, if in the unlikely event they win the election. To get anywhere near balancing the books approx 600k civil servants will probably lose their jobs as unfortunately, the taxpaying part of the economy already is overburdened. That number would only save about £20bn pa.

    That is Brown’s legacy – huge overspends, a massive budget deficit and a debt legacy for our kids.

    ((and no, before you start, the budget deficit is not due to bank bailouts. HMT itself now only accounts for £10bn as the entire cost of the bailouts, where something like £110bn is simply a structurla deficit – overspending)).

    1. Not really sure the unemployment figures are ever a moot point to anyone unemployed, but thanks for playing

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