The BBC is reporting that, as well as unemployment reaching 1.92 million in November (which means it’s well over 2 million, now), the ‘downturn’* (its infantile name for the ‘recession’ – just like parents use the word ‘pee’) is ‘hitting women harder’, according to a report from the TUC, which found that:
the redundancy rate among women had risen by 2.3%, almost double the rate for men, since last year.
It said more women were in work and more households depended on a woman’s wage than in previous downturns.
It also found many job losses were occurring in retail and hospitality, where more women than men work.
The study, published ahead of Wednesday’s unemployment figures which are expected to show another big rise in the jobless total, also found women now earn more than men in a fifth of couples.
The Labour Government has been panicking, saving men’s jobs in automotive in its marginal seats, but is missing the wood for the trees. It’s ignoring women’s jobs which it just lets go without even a fear for the economic, social, or political consequences.
Remember, it was the ladies (e.g. Worcester women) who largely voted Blair in.
While in the latest Times/IPSOS-Mori opinion poll, 45% would vote Tory compared to 31% Labour, only 28% of women said they’d vote Labour, while 43% plumped for the Conservatives.
Men have now caught up with women in the big 5% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, but it is women who are ‘hardest hit’ – and, in households where the woman fears for her job and doesn’t expect any help from the Government – the man (and the kids) will suffer too. Men say: mess with our women and we won’t vote for you either.
* Which the BBC will upgrade to ‘recession’ this Friday when the growth figures are released.
The Conservative lead over Labour remains at 7 percentage points (Con 41%, Lab 34%, LD, 15%). Hat tip: Conservative Home. However, as I observed earlier today, Brown may be about to make two “excessive” policy risks by printing money and cutting taxes. Actually, the tax cut would be welcome, but would alas dent the Tories’ opinion poll standing.
Because there is a Labour threat — Brown winning a majority or hanging Parliament in a ‘snap’ general election — which means more disastrous Brownian (dis)economics and the grim prospect of a second Brown term.
The Tories’ two looming strategic errors, therefore, are:-
(1) They fail to propose an income tax cut before Brown does. The Conservatives have promised to elimiate lower rate tax on savings (interest on wealth) as opposed to reducing taxes on income tax (earned income) — not very egalitarian. As a result, they would lose credibility further (as it is clear that Cameron will not replace his mate Osborne), and may even gift Brown an opinion poll lead — if he appears to be more in tune with the people. Which Brownian (dis)economics can never be, though it might seem so at the time — after all, these good mortgage deals nowadays for the wine-bibbing “chattering classes” make them just luv Labour.
(2) They bring into the Shadow Cabinet the vilest proponent of europhilia, Ken Clarke.* Just because Labour has woken Mandelson from his coffin does not mean that the Conservatives should wheel in Clarke. This would inevitably create a UKIP bounce that would not only be disastrous for the Tories (and a boon for Labour) in the forthcoming European elections — but would spill over into the forthcoming general election. Cameron is already weak on Europe (i.e. EPP-ED) and bringing back Clarke, a throwback from the Major régime, could split the Tories but would certainly drive Eurosceptic voters away from them in droves.
Therefore, the Conservatives need to propose to cut income tax as well as keeping Ken Clarke on the back benches where he belongs — to see off the Labour threat. Otherwise, there will be a Tory leadership election within the next 18 months if they let Labour back in or gift them a hung parliament.
I remember as a small child, and as a medium-sized child, and as a tween, and as a teenager, and as a twentysomething … etc … going into Woolworths.
If anything is going to sink Labour, it’s the fact that on its watch Woolworths has now gone under.
Robert Peston (who else?) has found out that Woolworths is filing for administration, with the potential loss of TENS OF THOUSANDS of jobs on the High Street…
The board will meet at 6pm to take the formal decision. …
The collapse of Woolworth is likely to lead to the closure of hundreds of stores across the UK.
And it is also likely to lead to many thousands of redundancies.
Woolworth has 815 stores. The store chain employs 25,000 and Entertainment UK employs 5,000.
People will be furious. There won’t be riots, but people will fume privately – then they will vote Labour out. It may be Woolworths that finally does for Labour…
Labour won the 2005 general election because many voters stayed at home – apart from core Tory voters -and the welfare-dependent turned out in force. This is the calculation that Labour is using in its forthcoming announcement on tax credits, which Melanie Phillips rightly describes as causing ‘pauperisation’:
If Brown’s fiscal stimulus turns out to be merely yet more tax credits, he should be jumped on from a great height since this will increase pauperisation and dependency. What is needed is tax cuts for those in work on modest incomes. The danger is that Brown will simply increase state spending and use the crisis to pursue his agenda of redistribution and control. But the Tories, having got it wrong until now, have proceeded to reverse themselves and got it wrong again. They went along with Brown’s reckless spending programmes in times of plenty solely as a piece of political positioning, because they were terrified of being called ‘heartless’ public service cutters and thought the only way to regain power was by hanging onto the coat-tails of the left. Yet those times of plenty were precisely when they should have been calling for ‘prudence’ and cutting spending to put reserves aside for a when times got hard. They did not – until now, when they have ditched Brown’s spending increases on the grounds that adding to the national debt is an act of recklessness – even though it is probably necessary for these present circumstances and only these present circumstances. Their current position therefore seems to be deflationary and likely to make the situation even worse.
I empathise with her when she says she has “not and never has been a Tory”. She’s not the only one, and there are many like me too who think that, on balance, the UK is better off with a Conservative Government than a Labour one. The “Judas kiss” that the UUP have given the Tories will no doubt come back to haunt Cameron – the UUP is as discredited and as defunct a party as there can possibly be.
But that the UK is better off with a Conservative Government has never been clearer than on the Tories’ Tax cuts to help hard-working families Vs Labour’s Tax credits to win Labour the next General Election.
Hopefully, though Labour’s core welfare-dependent voters will vote for more of the same, other people in England and Wales will vote against Labour. We shall see – looks like June 5th for the General Election.
A few years back Labour launched “Every Child Matters” with great fanfare. It was the policy document that was supposed to make sure there would never again be another Victoria Climbié.
Haringey Council’s social workers’ incompetence, however, has led to the death of Baby P, or Child A, who was murdered in the family home by an evil brute:
The report says that there were “numerous examples” of good practice [RUBBISH] within all agencies involved in the case, but concludes:
“There were many factors which contributed to the inability of the agencies to understand what was happening to Child A. With the possible exception of the paediatric assessment of 01.08.07, none on their own were likely to have enabled further responses that might have prevented the tragic outcome.”
The report says that just over a week before he died, legal advice was that on the information provided, the threshold for initiating care proceedings had not been met [WHEN SHOULD IT BE?] and adds:
“Most critically Child A was seen on 01.08.07 by a community paediatrician for the purpose of the long awaited development assessment. Expert medical opinion commissioned during the course of this serious case review concluded that a diagnosis of abuse should have been made at that point.”
It also says:
“This serious case review has revealed clear evidence of appropriate communication between and within agencies as well as weaknesses in specific areas of information flow.”
The review found that “safeguarding structures exist across Haringey agencies and offer a sound framework for the implementation of required procedures, it has also identified scope for improving the detailed application of some processes.”
The above justification of Labour-run Haringey Council’s overseeing of the murder of a child – and outright incompetence – as well as the poor framework put in place by the Labour Government just shows why we can’t trust Labour with our children.
So much for “Every Child Matters”. Every child clearly doesn’t matter.
Mr Boom (Brown) and Mr Bust (Darling) have achieved the recession that their Labour economic policies were always going to deliver – as Merv ‘the Swerve’ and Mr Boom admitted in the last few days. Now, having created a bad situation for the country’s economic and financial position, can they perhaps ease the pain?
Alas, no. Their economic policies have very much been about government intervention – the bank bailouts, nationalisation, the ‘spend our way out of the recession’, and Keynesian (a swear word if ever there were one) spending on public works.
There is one way by which this gutless Government could ease the pain. It is quite simple. They should cut taxes.
But unfortunately that is beyond the leftwing ideologues who run the country. Their socialism has been revealed, as the only way they know how to respond to an economic downturn.
How much longer people in the UK have to suffer from Labour’s policies is anyone’s guess. Tax cuts are the only way to ease the pain, but this lot aren’t going to deliver those.
Tim Montgomerie reckons Cameron understands the current financial meltdown. I write the following as a friend of the Conservatives and an enemy of Labour.
Cameron doesn’t write his own speeches – and the speechwriter-cum-adviser in question has probably left to work in PR or the City or somewhere (hopefully not in a Bank, although these are the safest Government-backed jobs there are any more). Hence, neither Cameron nor Osborne really understand the current crisis, otherwise they would not have reacted in the way they have.
The Conservatives’ biggest strategic error has been to go bipartisan at a time when they should be criticising the Government’s economic record. This is only likely to give Labour a better opinion poll rating – a get out of jail free card, if you like. And, what happens, but Labour improves in the polls. If Cameron had attacked Labour robustly at his conference two weeks ago, the news agenda would not have been allowed to shift in this way. Despite the Tory pseudo-strategy to attack Brown on the ‘real economy’ later when they should have opposed the Bank nationalisation now, Brown is likely to go for a Spring 2009 election if he thinks the Tories have lost it and he can narrow the polls further.
Also this is at a time when Lord Mandelson has been brought back into the Government, and is responsible for all the spin – why else has the media narrative changed from Brown-and-Out to Brown the Great Leader? Even Paul Krugman has fallen for Brown’s socialist nationalisation of banks – which proves that you can be intelligent and be a Nobel Laureate, but not necessarily have any common sense or judgment!
No one had the guts to stand up to Stalin either.
What I would like to know is : Has Brown agreed a Faustian pact with Mandelson?
The Conservatives are being advised by David “Lundy” Trimble, who sold out the people of Ulster with the Belfast Agreement, and then failed to deliver, and watched while terrorist prisoners were released, arms were not decommissioned, and the police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was dismantled.
Common sense Ulster people ejected Trimble even from his prosperous Upper Bann constituency, in which I have had the pleasure of living for the past 6 months. The UUP went down from having a majority of unionist seats to only one in 2005. They had the first minister in the Assembly and then lost it. They are a spent electoral force.
Trimble is advising the Tories to amalgamate with the UUP and contest every seat in Northern Ireland. As Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP for Lagan Valley, (once a rock solid UUP seat) rightly pointed out, what about the proposed Unionist pact to stop Sinn Fein winning Fermanagh & South Tyrone and the SDLP from winning South Belfast?
And what’s more, Tory MEP Dan Hannan described Northern Ireland as an “over-subsidised quango state.” What gives him the right to say this?
Most of all, sensible Ulster people will simply not vote in sufficient numbers for the Conservatives, who were responsible for the iniqitous Anglo-Irish Agreement – not to mention wiping out much of Ulster’s industrial base during the Thatcherite period of the 1980s.
The UUP/Tory pact is a non-starter. It is the advice of a failed politician (Trimble) to the next Prime Minister (Cameron) and is bad judgment all around that it is even being considered. The UUP’s sole MP Sylvia Hermon is rightly against the idea, it is rumoured.
It would be like toxic debt being injected into the markets – but in this case, a toxic political force (the UUP) being injected into the veins of the Conservative Party – and should be abandoned forthwith. And, anyway, just as Scottish Unionists didn’t like being bossed about from London, Ulster people simply wouldn’t wish to be bossed about by the Conservative Party in London either…
Recently, we have heard much of the possible Lloyds TSB/HBOS job losses of up to 40,000 as well as the shedding of 4,500 Lehman Brothers jobs in the City. However, what about elsewhere? What is going on to the local economies – where most of us live – in terms of unemployment and worklessness?
Nationally, we know from the Office of National Statistics that:
The unemployment rate was 5.5 per cent for the three months to July 2008, up 0.2 over both the previous quarter and over the year. The number of unemployed people increased by 81,000 over the quarter and by 72,000 over the year, to reach 1.72 million.
But Labour has presided over an increase of unemployment in the entrepreneurial city of Birmingham again (this is of personal interest to me as I worked there for over three years). The birthplace of the industrial revolution is suffering from Brownian economic policy with an unemployment rate of 9.2%.
Source: ONS (2008)
The ONS report also finds that economic inactivity in Birmingham is a staggering 30.7% much higher than the UK’s corresponding 21.6% rate.
Even more of an indictment for Labour – which is supposed to be the party of ethnic minorities – is that in Birmingham the employment rate for non-white adults is only 50.6% (63.1% for the whole population) and their economic inactivity rate is 41.9% (compared to 30.7% overall).
So if you’re black or Pakistani and living in Birmingham – or anywhere else in the UK – you can blame Labour for your economic situation.
And no matter what colour, gender or age you are, if you live in Birmingham, you’re much more likely to be out of work than if you live in many other parts of the country.
The next Government needs to sort this mess out and get people, whatever their ‘demographics’ or background, back into work.
The lessons of Lehman
As Lehman Brothers becomes the biggest business failure in the US, one must remember that entrepreneurship is about risk and reward.
Reward: The employees of Lehman have collectively made hundreds of millions in bonus, and now they’re out on the street looking for new jobs (that includes £4,500 in the UK, ominously). It’s a pity that their bonuses – their rewards for failure, if you like – cannot be clawed bank and handed back to the creditors of Lehman. But such bonuses are cunningly used as an accounting measure to reduce profits and, therefore, corporation tax paid.
Risk: They got it wrong and now they are paying big time for their failure. John McCain is right to describe the financial services sector in the US (AKA Wall Street) as a ‘casino’ – well, the same is true of the City of London’s investment banks. And entrepreneurship can be very much a ‘casino’ if people take extraordinary risks. Or are extraordinarily stupid, as was the case with Lehman.
What does this mean for tax cuts?
I argued on this blog about a year ago that the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), with its brilliant team including Matthew Elliott, Matthew Sinclair and Tim Aker amongst others, has won the argument on tax. Since then,
- Labour made a hamfisted attempt to reduce a tax that it raised in the first place (10p).
- The Conservatives, on the other hand, have about two tax reducing commitments: first, to increase the stamp duty threshold for homeowners from £175k to £250k; and secondly, to increase the inheritance tax threshold to £1m or £2m for married couples. The first favours ordinary people and first-time buyers, and the second largely favours the relatively wealthy (although, as Ian Hislop pointed out on Have I Got News For You, it’s so popular with a large section of the electorate “because they’re going to get the house”).
- The Lib Dems are now the only party that offers tax cuts for the lower paid and middle-income people who are most devastated by the credit crunch. It would have been better had ‘Ozzy’ Osborne ( our next Chancellor of the Exchequer, at only 13 🙂 ) had used those billions to help the poorer and middling sections of society, the true coping classes. This is the obvious next step for the Tories if they are to hold any hope of gaining Lib Dem held seats. While Eastleigh, Solihull and others are in the bag, the Conservatives can forget Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam or Vince Cable’s Twickenham (unless the latter retires as an MP) – people there can vote with their social conscience for the ‘nice liberals’ AND vote for tax cuts.
Tim Aker of TPA points out that:
The Lib Dems have already made a bold stand in putting the case for lower government spending, a move that even outflanks the Conservative message of higher public spending as all part of the ‘sharing’ deal between the government and taxpayer. But the silver bullet in twenty-first-century British politics is staring the Liberal Democrats in the face. In presenting the case for lower taxes on the lowest paid, they should embrace the call to take those in poverty out of income tax by significantly increasing the income tax threshold to the government’s valued level below which poverty begins. Whereas Lady Thatcher locked in the support of the C2 and D voting classes when the government allowed council tenants to buy their own council houses, the same opportunity is there for any party to take the next logical step and to take the poorest out of income tax.
Absolutely spot on, of course, so it is time for the Tories to sit up and listen. It’s all very well being 20 points ahead, but the Lib Dems are still an electoral threat in many places.
Not just that, but it is also morally right to cut taxes on the poorer and middling sections of society who are being skewered by Brownite economic policy and the credit crunch – mortgages, petrol prices, food prices, etc. It is they who elected one of the Tories’ best and most compassionate MPs, Edward Timpson, in Crewe & Nantwich. He is someone whose parents fostered over 30 children and Timpsons is one of the best employers around.
It is time for some compassion on tax too. Now. Or, if not, at least in time for the next general election, which may be sooner than many people expect.
What has this to do with Lehman? Simple. We’re in this mess largely because of the Wall St and City of London ‘casino’, and the Brownian policy vacuum that doesn’t know how to deal with the credit crunch. Ordinary people are suffering – we need to stimulate the economy to ease their financial (and thus emotional) strain, as well as making entrepreneurship attractive, and reviving the housing market. Tax cuts are a good way to start this process.
Low-paid council workers are right to strike for better wages in the current economic context. And yet there are many economic fallacies – in fact, outright lies – being bandied about by the treacherous, traitorous Labour Government. These are the very people who have suffered most as a result of 11 years of Brownian economic policy: and yet many of them will have rejoiced at Blair’s 1997 election victory and will have faithfully voted Labour in every subsequent election.
Why do I support a strike by UNISON members? Because improving the pay of the low paid in the economic climate caused by Brownian-Darlingian economic mismanagement, the ‘credit crisis’ and rising prices is morally right and socially just.
Let’s clarify two facts to begin with. First, 250,000 low-paid public sector workers on £6.50 an hour (of whom 75% are women, according to UNISON) have rejected a derisory 2.45% pay offer. So it’s not just about low-paid workers (on around £13k a year for a 40-hour week) who need improved pay in order to be able to pay the bills, school uniforms, mortgage or rent etc, but it’s about equal pay for women. These workers provide essential services such as:
social workers, housing benefit workers, rent collectors refuse workers, school meals staff, teaching assistants, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.
These workers have been hammered by the 10p tax rate debacle and by other factors such as rising petrol and food prices. They’re now seeking a 6%, or 50p an hour, increase in their pay. Darling’s attitude is that, ‘we have introduced the minimum wage so there.’ However, it was never supposed to be a maximum wage.
Second, the economic fallacy that increasing the wages of low-paid public sector workers would be inflationary. This is an outright lie. This is a small part of the workforce which is in the public sector – therefore, their wage increases do not increase prices of private sector goods and services.
Yes, the money would have to come from somewhere – council tax or from Central Government – but it is simply not right to say that this scenario is similar to the 1970s winter of discontent. There is no hyperinflation like then and food price rises are largely due to external factors as well as the actions of City speculators and the biofuel industry, as last night’s Dispatches reported.
So there will be a strike and hopefully the Government and the councils’ employer association will see sense on this matter. And save these low-paid workers from financial ruin. But let’s not forget that the Government has got these workers into this mess with its policies.
UNISON should have broken its links with the Labour Party in the interests of its members – do low-paid union members really wish to see their money go into the coffers of the Government that has ruined them? And the union should not bankroll Labour at the next election – all they’ll get is slapped in the face.
Amazing as may sound to many trade unionists, the interests of UNISON members would be better served by a Government that implements radical low-tax policies for low-paid workers (as advocated by Conservative Home’s Tim Montgomerie). If public sector workers on £6.50 an hour could keep more of their own money, then there wouldn’t be any need for this strike.
An article in the Telegraph today reports Brown’s forthcoming speech to “education leaders” alleging that Maggie caused the UK’s chronic social immobility. I would be one of the last people to defend the ‘means to the end’ of restructuring the economy in the 1980s, given that my father was made redundant from his manufacturing job in 1985 – never to work again – but I think Brown’s argument is ludicrous.
As Ordovicius rightly points out:
Is this the best Brown can come up with after one year at number 10 and ten years as Chancellor? Will David Cameron respond by blaming Callaghan for the UK’s woes? Me thinks not.
And Glyn Davies notes that:
After 11 years of Labour Government in which Gordon Brown has controlled the public finances, British people born poor stay poor. Even in the area where his rhetoric is strongest, the Prime Minister’s performance is failure. And what is he proposing to reverse this. Some quite small scale pilot projects, the one being given prominence by the BBC being to give public money to families who join schemes which include health checks and nutritional advice to improve social development. I’m not going to disagree with this until I see what evidence the proposal is based on – but it does smack of Gordon Brown’s belief that just throwing public money at every problem is the answer. But by trying to throw all the blame on a woman, who was ten times the man he is, Gordon Brown has diminished himself in the eyes of the British people today.
Beautifully put, Glyn.
Apart from the fact that Brown seems to unwilling for his party or himself to take any responsibility for their 11 years in government, the article highlights a few other reasons why Tories will feel justified in branding him a hypocrite…
There were winners and losers from the Thatcherite economic policies, but those policies have continued unabated – under Labour, hundreds of thousands (if not millions?) of manufacturing jobs have been lost, as the economy continues to become ever more dependent upon services and outsources (and imports) from the developing world. Developing countries, such as China and India, have benefited from their ability to manufacture cheaply, though they have replaced the manufacturing workforce of the UK. However, you will be shocked if you watch tonight’s Panorama exposé on child labour in a Primark subcontractor in India.
Back to the point, does living in a workless household preclude social mobility? It didn’t for me. I went to university – tens of thousands of working-class kids (even when the parents’ jobs had gone) in Northern Ireland go to good schools, and then often on to university.
And what happens if you’re a bright working-class kid in most parts of England? Tough luck is the official policy, unless you happen to live in Trafford (3 cheers to Graham Brady!), Kent, Buckinghamshire (3 cheers to Dominic Grieve!). You can go to a grammar school, that’s what. If you don’t live in such an area, tough luck, that’s what Ed Balls is basically saying.
Shirley Williams lost her Hertford & Stevenage seat in the 1979 general election not without good reason. She was the Labour Secretary of State for Education Minister who pushed through the closure of many grammar schools.
I’m not a Thatcherite (Reason: Anglo-Irish Agreement) and I’m not going to defend Maggie under whose watch as Tory Secretary of State for Education many grammar schools were closed too. But this was in the Heath administration, 1970-1974, which has to rate as one of the worst Conservative Governments – Heath took the UK into the then EEC, after all.
But Brown can’t blame Maggie for social immobility. It was Labour’s abolition of grammar schools that has caused social immobility – that, for example, means that many bright black Caribbean kids in the tower-blocks in London can’t get a decent education and a chance in life. And if they do work hard, like Damilola Taylor they get murdered when coming back from the library for being too ‘clever’, or like Stephen Lawrence simply for being black?
I’ve said before that the Tories have annoyed me lately, but better they than Labour, the grammar school abolishers: and Michael Gove has restored at least some confidence. Melanie Phillips highlights that there may be ‘some hope’ for bright working-class kids (including children from workless households),
On a visit last week to Trafford, which maintains both selective and comprehensive schools, the Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove declared robustly that grammar schools must be ‘absolutely defended’. …
… All Mr Gove needs to do is move his geographical pointer a bit farther along the map to the Netherlands to find a progressive country where selective schools are part of an education system driven, as it should be, by parental choice rather than state control.
Academic selection lies at the very heart of intellectual achievement, social justice and individual aspiration. They are impossible without it. That’s why it is a totemic issue by which any party aspiring to government must be judged.
I wouldn’t have got to university had it not been for Foyle & Londonderry College, my grammar school, but Brown ‘n’ Balls would have denied me this opportunity had they the chance. It is Labour that is the true enemy of social mobility.
- Alistair Darling
- animal welfare
- Bank of England buffoons
- Child A
- general election
- Gordon Brown
- gun crime
- intellectual idiocy
- Jacqui Smith
- Labour Party
- Northern Ireland
- older people
- opinion polls
- public sector
- Reg Empty
- Rhys Jones
- Royal Mail
- Shannon Matthews
- social breakdown
- social services