Monday, 21 March 2011

Does Cameron remember the economic misery of the 1980s?

You can read my article for Total Politics here on my hopes for George Osborne's budget this week and the importance of protecting jobs.

Ahead of Osborne’s budget next week, the chancellor must be thinking carefully about how to prevent the further loss of jobs and skilled workers from our economy. Will the government put forward a credible proposal for growth or will they plough ahead with their programme of deep and damaging cuts.

This week Labour called for immediate action to boost jobs and growth in the economy to help hard-pressed families with the ever increasing cost of living. Still without any long-term plan for economic growth the Government are making it harder to get the country back on its feet.

What I hope to see in Osborne’s budget next week is a plan that quite clearly puts jobs first. I agree that cuts must be made in order to bring the deficit down but this government’s short-term vision will not see it through to securing jobs in the long term. Jobs and growth must be the priority of this budget.

As we saw this week, unemployment hit a 17 year high and the number of young people unemployed is the highest it has ever been. The number of people classed as economically inactive has increased by 43,000 to 9.33m – including 2.3m of which are having to look after a family.

In addition, 8000 construction jobs have been lost over the last quarter - 50 000 in the last year. With 5 people chasing every job nationwide Osborne has no choice but to consider how he will boost jobs in his budget next week. He must act to kick start growth and protect jobs.

But it seems lately that the government have forgotten the mistakes of the 1980s and 1990s recessions when even after growth returned, unemployment remained high.

In the North West where I grew up we are proud to have a great manufacturing heritage which is very much the heartbeat of the regional economy.

Companies like BAe Systems and others in the region offer apprenticeship schemes which have seen hundreds of young people in the region go on to train and work in the skilled sector.

What Cameron and Osborne do not remember, or perhaps never really experienced, is the economic misery that existed in the 1980s. The history lesson from the last 30 years shows that when manufacturing and similar sectors are hit, they do not come back easily. We paid the price of the recession in the 1980s with the loss of jobs and skilled workers. I hope we are not making the same mistake again.