With unemployment hitting 2.62 million today, and over a million young people out of work it really does look like the Coalition Government's much-vaunted 'Plan A' is not working. There is a terrifying risk that we will have another 'Thatcher Generation' of young people coming into the employment market without any real hope of work and condemned to lengthy periods without a job. It is no coincidence that the last two quarters of the Labour Government saw the economy growing - it was deliberate policies of continued investment in public services and initiatives like the Future Jobs Fund and Working Neighbourhood Fund which were making a real difference to the real economy. You have to wonder why the present government has abandoned policies which were working in favour of a policy approach which failed in the 1930's and the 1980's and which will undoubtedly fail again.
Equally staggering is the failure of local Liberal Democrats in Southwark to even raise a murmur about the damage THEIR government is doing. On the 1st of November ten senior Lib Dems, including former Southwark Councillor Ruth Bright, wrote to the Guardian pointing out the fact that their party had actively campaigned during the 2010 election campaign against the economic policies the Government is now pursuing. They said in their letter:
"...out of responsibility to the country, Liberal Democrats must now tell the Conservatives that they will no longer support policies which are not working. That is necessary even if one is only concerned about deficit reduction. As the Compass Plan B states, it already "looks as if the government will miss the defecit reduction target and, as the economy slows, the deficit could increase."
Today's unemployment figures and the concern expressed by Mervyn King must only add to the weight of the letter's argument.
Not unreasonably (I thought) I wrote to the Leader of the Lib Dem Group in Southwark asking her if she agreed with the contents of her colleagues' letter, and if not, why not.
Today I got a reply, of sorts. Cllr Al-Samerai queries how I have got time to write letters to her and goes on to tell me that she is asking for the letter to be investigated by the Borough Solicitor as it may represent a waste of council resources. The irony of wasting council resources on a potentially costly investigation by a senior officer of the Council into the production of a letter is clearly lost on Cllr Al-Sameria. But that aside, she has not provided an answer to my query.
Doesn't it just reinforce the points I made in my previous blog entry - the Lib Dems in Southwark have absolutely no answers to the big issues facing this borough. They are pathetically obsessed by opposition for the sake of opposition. At a time when we have over 25% of our 16 - 24 year olds in the borough out of work, and that figure rising every month, the fact that they will not criticise Tory policies represents abject failure, not opposition.
Thankfully the people of Southwark have a Labour Council on their side, fighting to build our local economy in the face of the downturn, with politicians who do have answers to the big questions and who are also able to hold their political opponents to account.