Unemployment in the UK

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 8:42 pm on 7th October 2008.

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Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Labour, Edinburgh South 8:42 pm, 7th October 2008

The Conservatives are not brave about many things, but they are certainly brave in tabling today's motion on unemployment in the United Kingdom. They are surely the experts on unemployment, for they gave unemployment to every region, every community and every sector. In Edinburgh, South, their political heartlessness combined with their economic incompetence to leave a legacy of more than 2,000 people on the dole in 1997. That is the golden legacy that they hark back to. Now, in the seat of Edinburgh, South, within large boundaries, unemployment stands at 667—it has fallen by more than two thirds. That means that 1,372 fewer people are now worried about applying for jobs, seeking employment and where they will get the money that they need for themselves and their children.

In the past year alone, unemployment has fallen by 8.3 per cent. and more than 333,000 people have entered work. That has given the UK an all-time record employment figure of 29.5 million. Of course, none of this happened by chance—it happened by choice when the Government chose to levy £5 billion as a windfall tax on the excessive profits of the utilities to fund the new deal. Instead of 3 million languishing on the dole, unemployment recently fell to its lowest level since 1975. Our choice was to bring long-term unemployment to its lowest for 30 years. The Tory choice would have been no windfall tax, no new deal and not even a minimum wage to stop exploitative employers. But then, as the shadow Chancellor made clear on 17 September,

"making...money out of the misery of others...is a function of capitalist markets."

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