Another day, another box ticked

THINK of a Tory government, and you think of mass unemployment. One of the defining achievements of Thatcher was to win two general elections having been responsible for creating historically high levels of unemployment; it wasn’t enough that she didn’t care about the jobless – she managed to persuade a sizeable section of the electorate not to care either. Genius.

But times have changed. Such scant regard for others’ misery, captured in Norman Lamont’s dismissively cruel jibe that mass unemployment was “a price worth paying”, is no longer acceptable to voters.

Which leaves ‘Dave’ with the job of further detoxifying the Tory brand.

Today he says that his party “will not stand by and do nothing” in the face of rising unemployment. I’m guessing that the full quote didn’t add “like we did last time while I was working for Lamont”, though that would have been more honest.

Does ‘Dave’ mean what he says? Does he give a fig for people struggling to find a job? His own party’s record doesn’t suggest a positive response.

But to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter. He’s doing what he has to do in order to win an election: he’s ticked another box. And for this Tory leader, that’s a good day’s work.



Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Economy, Politics

10 responses to “Another day, another box ticked

  1. Good post.

    It’s worth a reminder of what his mate George Osborne said just a few weeks ago:

    ‘No one takes pleasure from people making money out of the misery of others but that is a function of capitalist markets.’

    Dave’s got some more detoxification to do.

  2. Bob

    Tom, Dave isn’t planning to sit by and do nothing – that is for sure.

    Apparently, according to Sky News, he is planning to reduce employment:

  3. He did not refer exactly back to the 80s and 90s but it did sound like he was referring to ‘the last Tory government’

    You have go tto admit, that it is possible to listen to a Cameron speech without feeling you have been battered by figures like a dismal Gordon speech.

    At times like this we need inspiration not tractor statistics even if the end result is the same.

  4. richard

    I suspect the Conservatives will be dusting off their “dole-queue – Labour isn’t working” posters ( as unemployment hits 2 million in a couple more months.

  5. King John

    John Philpott, CIPD Chief Economist:

    “It’s been an awful autumn so far for the economy and the jobs market is now being crunched. Today’s official figures are dire – the 122,000 quarterly drop in the number of people in work and the 164,000 quarterly rise in unemployment underline the severity of the emerging jobs crisis. With a recession now almost certainly already underway we face the prospect of a woeful winter. If today’s figures are a guide to what happens next, claimant unemployment will probably top 1 million by Christmas with unemployment on the government’s preferred survey based measure heading for 2.25 million by next Easter at the latest. And that’s likely to be the best we can hope for.

    “According to the latest official figures, vacancies have fallen and more people are being made redundant. The number of people in full-time employment has fallen particularly sharply. Overall, young people aged 35 and under have borne the brunt of the most recent fall in employment. But there are signs that older people are starting to leave the jobs market too as employment prospects weaken.

    “A real pay squeeze is adding to the jobs crunch. Pay rises have fallen back just as price inflation has surged. The combination of mounting job losses, heightened job insecurity and shrinking real incomes means people are hardly likely to be rushing out to spend – for the time being intensifying recessionary pressure in the economy.”


  6. Johnny Norfolk

    Why dont you and your party sort things out.
    You have got us in this mess.
    No matter what you do if you do not reduce borrowing and spending things will only get worse, its as simple as that.
    There is so much you could scrap without touching the important things.
    Like ID cards, new computer systems, TV advertising. Quangos, the list is endless.
    You still in the end have to run a country like a business or a home.
    You cannot continue to spend on a reducing income.
    Just keep it simple and face up to the truth.

  7. There’s a certain kind of smugness and self-satisfaction about this post that makes me feel quite queasy about the way Labour regards their electoral prospects.

    Your Great Leader and his acolytes are the ones who have been responsible for the disastrous mess that we find ourselves in – note, I didn’t say you caused it but certainly your policies over the last 11 years have put the UK in the worst possible position to deal with it.

    The only defence you appear to have is to say that nearly 30 years ago when the Tories came into power faced with the economy wrecked by a Labour government in only five years of power is that unemployment touched nearly 3 million.

    Since you came back in 1997 you have squandered all those hard won improvements of the ’80s and ’90s by your irresponsible tax and spend policies. Now we have the former “prudent” Chancellor – the king of the stealth tax – with his “golden rules” – the man who claims to have reduced the national debt – telling us it is “the right thing to do” to borrow even more in order to make tax reductions. Some say this will be over £100 billion.

    Oh bliss! What irony! The man who told us he would only ever borrow to “invest” over an economic cycle to maintain economic stability. The man who told us we were best placed to weather this global crisis is now claiming to have the blueprint that the rest of the world should follow.

    It is fairly likely that the number of unemployed will reach 2 million in the next few months and be possibly close to 3 million in the next year or so. I suppose, to be even more cynical, you could add in the 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit. “Labour’s not working”?

    You could do well to remember too that at the end of the 1980s the Labour party fully supported Nigel Lawson’s strategy of shadowing the deutchmark (against Thatcher’s better judgement) which led to the Major/Lamont debacle in 1992 and the higher tax levels than were planned.

    What did for the Conservatives in 1997 was not the economy – they had sorted it out by then -which allowed the Glorious Chancellor to build up his war chest for excessive spending in subsequent years.

    No, what did for the Conservatives was so-called “sleaze” and the electorate being ready for “change”. Sound familiar? Who says history never repeats itself – no matter how much the Labour spin machine tries to re-write it?

    Oh, and by the way, ‘Dave’ has actually said: “…the Conservatives have a moral obligation to help people who are laid off, or are at risk of being so.” That sounds like “compassionate Conservatism” to me!

  8. Nick Jones

    Nobody I know believes the “official” unemployment figures anyway. Add in the people kept out of the “unemployed” by listing them in other categories, and the not working numbers are much, much higher than the “receiving jobseekers’ allowance” figure.
    One day, soon perhaps, public disgust at the years and years of spin will be sufficient to put a stop to this crowing.

  9. Jim Baxter

    ‘At times like this we need inspiration not tractor statistics even if the end result is the same.’

    I attended PMQs some years ago, before it was televised, and saw the then PM demolish the then Leader of the Opposition with statistics. the LoP was trying very hard to be inspiring – too hard – and just made himself look a bit silly and blustery instead. The two leaders involved were M. Thatcher and N. Kinnock. Cameron is no Kinnock, of course, and I mean that as a compliment to Cameron.

    I agree that it would do no harm to have a PM who inspired some affection and who at least appeared to have a warm and engaging personality. If we did we could tell ourselves that our PM probably does care about our problems enough to work to solve them. As it is, we are more likely to believe that our PM is merely working at trying to con us in order to cling to office.

  10. Andy

    Conservatives just say them thing to think they have change but they have not.

    look at Boris Johnson he as destroyed the London transport by axed the cross river tram,axed jobs in transport for London.

    but he want to build a airport at Thames estuary where loads of wildlife are.

    Labour need to show the conservative party they can do better.

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