With the jobless figures reaching the highest nationwide since 1994 it was not surprising that Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, Cllr David Ellesmere, should use his column in the Evening Star to talk about his experience when facing redundancy. This is a very real fear for people in Ipswich and it in showing empathy Cllr Ellesmere is showing genuine political intelligence, as well as highlighting a difference between himself and Mr Gummer; he is an employee, Mr Gummer is an employer.
This feeds in, perhaps without realising it, to the national Labour plan to isolate the Tory government as only interested in the rich, with Labour standing up “for the hard-working middle”. It also helps to inform the story in Ipswich, with Labour putting down an early marker that they will be canny about the campaign they intend to run.
Over the weekend, Ben Gummer MP officially launched the Enterprise Club, a new club to support people hoping to start their own business after a period out of work. This scheme offers new support to the unemployed, fitting neatly into the objectives of Iain Duncan-Smith’s stated aim to get people back to work.
The only problem is, the Government’s hope that the private sector will take up the slack from the public sector job losses isn’t happening in reality. Unemployment hasn’t been this high since 1994, the last time there was a major pan European financial problem. There are differences between this recession and the recession of the collapse of the ERM. This recession is caused by serious concerns about the level of sovereign debt and the ability of some countries to service that debt. The UK still has a substantial deficit, and the Government are right when they say that deficit reduction has to be undertaken to fix the economy – we need to stop increasing the size of our debt and start living within our means.
Kevin Algar correctly identifies here that the Labour parties Achilles heel is that the public have bought the coalition’s story that the deficit was caused by Labour’s profligate spending, this will make it very difficult for Labour to get a fair hearing on the economy. Cllr Ellesmere’s show of empathy towards those facing redundancy, talking from personal experience, allows him to bypass this doubt in the public mind. A very clever strategy from Labour.