At this difficult time, it really is all very, very reassuring that the nation’s guidance is in such capable hands.
Sing a song o’ tax an’ woe,
Empty pooches in a row,
The Chancellor’s collecting dough,
A’ for Maggie’s wedding.
The original of that appeared in the Bo’ness Rebels Ceilidh Song Book. Malcolm has only the edition of 1965. The punch line of that stanza was in honour of the wedding of the Princess Margaret to a society snapper. The matter of the song was that royal weddings are like Roman circuses:
- they distract the plebs while important matters are determined by important folk.
- they seem to coincide (1960, 1981 ..) with smoothing over the difficulties of a Tory government’s early years.
And — guess what we had earlier this year, right on schedule?
So, to the matters of the day
Unemployment up to 2.57 million, the highest since — well, since the Tories managed their last economic disaster in 1994.
Over a fifth of all 16-24 year olds are out-of-work or education. In Salmond’s bright new Scotland, where the rate for this age group is pushing 26%, it is even worse. On present trends, these are a generation that are not going to find any work.
Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran said: “Behind these figures are thousands of tales of tragedy as bright kids leave school with no jobs, no training, no chances.
“Scotland is now in the grip of a systemic youth employment crisis and the Scottish Government has a profound responsibility to act.
“If they haven’t already got the message, these figures should act as a wake-up call.”
She added: “This research punctures the myth that the SNP has somehow been doing better.
“In fact since Labour left government, Scots have suffered the scourge of unemployment hardest.
“We need an urgent action plan for growth that actually gets results and puts a stop to another wasted generation of young Scots who have the skills, have the drive, have the grades but now don’t have the jobs or the chances.”
How unlike …
… the insouciance of Alex Salmond, only a month ago:
ALEX SALMOND claims the evidence for a plan B to avoid a double-dip recession in the UK already exists in Scotland.
The First Minister claimed that with falling unemployment, rising employment and lower economic inactivity, the country was outperforming the rest of the UK.
“The important thing isn’t to say ‘wha’s like us?’ The important thing is to look at why this is happening and what we can learn from it,” he said. “We need to ensure this is not disrupted by the negativity of politics elsewhere.”
If anyone has sympathy for Salmond, Andrew McKie does the hatchet job for The Herald:
Nor has “Plan MacB” been the triumph that Mr Salmond claims: only a fraction of a percentage point separates the unemployment figures north and south of the border. Given the greater size of the public sector in Scotland, and the fact that male unemployment is actually worse here (and that the larger percentage of women in employment are still, unjustly, much more likely to be in part-time, low-paid work), it is in fact highly debatable whether Scotland’s economic position differs greatly from other parts of the UK.
How unlike …
The hon. Gentleman is wrong. We are publishing the figures, and they show exactly what will happen in terms of private sector employment and public sector employment. As the previous Government accepted, there will be reductions in public sector employment, but according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, which is independent of the Government,the growth in the private sector more than makes up for that.After he has left this room, he should maybe spend some time in a peace pod, wander to the Library and have a look at the figures, where he will see the Office for Budget Responsibility showing unemployment falling every year of this Parliament.
Today we are told of record price inflation, however it is measured:
The rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation in the UK matched its record high in September, rising to 5.2% from 4.5% the month before.
An increase in energy costs was behind a large proportion of the rise.
The 5.2% rate is the highest CPI measure since September 2008, and it has never been higher since the CPI measure was introduced in 1997.
The Retail Prices Index (RPI) – which includes mortgage interest payments – rose to 5.6% from 5.2%.
The latest RPI measure is the highest annual rate since June 1991.
The Office for National Statistics, which released the data, said in a statement: “By far the largest upward pressure to the change in CPI… came from increases in gas and electricity charges.
Notice that CPI is now higher than any time in the period of the previous Labour Government; and RPI is now back to levels achieved by the Major Government, twenty years gone.
Another triumph of Tory economic management.
Now what was Cameron saying earlier, as in May 2010? —
David Cameron said that the rise in the Consumer Price Index to 3.7pc in April – almost double the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) 2pc target – was starting to concern him.
Starting to concern him?
Cameron’s concern was never so well expressed as in his extended New Year interview with Andrew Marr:
Andrew Marr: It’s beginning to look like a trend rise in inflation though. I mean you know people are now talking about inflation being up to something like 5% before too long. The Monetary Policy Committee is meant to keep inflation at half that.
David Cameron: Yuh.