Every time I sit down to right this column, I try to think of the local and national issues I could talk about. Each time I want to write something different, something positive. But each time I find myself coming round to the economy, it’s the elephant in the room, overshadowing every other issue.
The simple fact is most people don’t feel like the economy is working for them. Prices are rising, wages are down, unemployment is high (across Ogmore and Bridgend almost 4,000 people are out of work) and last week’s growth figures show that the double-dip recession is even deeper than first thought. And yet, the Prime Minister and Chancellor have spent the last week claiming their plan is on track.
This last week the influential International Monetary Fund (IMF) told the Government to get a more balanced plan. The IMF warned this would be needed a year ago if the economy under-performed. It said the Tory-led Government should prepare a “Plan B” of temporary tax-cuts and investment in infrastructure, as Labour called for in its five-point plan for jobs and growth.
But there is no big idea coming from the Government on how to get the economy growing. What we do get from Government, however, is the Beecroft Report. Written by a Tory donor, the report recommended employers be given the power to fire at will.
When challenged on the report at PMQs, David Cameron stood by it, showing just how out of touch he is. These ‘fire at will’ proposals, where employers could sack workers on a whim, will make people more insecure and worried about what the future holds. Instead of helping business, they will damage consumer confidence and put demand into reverse.
Employee rights in the work place – hard won over many years – are not the reason why we are in a recession. We’re in a double-dip recession as a result of this Government’s failed economic policies over the last two years. Families have got enough to worry about at the moment, so these proposals are wide of the mark.
I’m hoping that by the time I write my next column that we are no longer in recession, unemployment has started to fall and the economy starts to grow, but the Government need to quickly see the writing on the wall and change direction. If Labour were in power, we too would have had to bring down the deficit, but the way to do that is through growth, not recession. When Labour left office, the economy was growing, and that is why we will keep making the strong arguments for change on the economy and will continue to stand up against any attacks on workers’ rights.
Britain wants real economic change and an economy that works for working people. Prime Minister David Cameron is more out of touch than ever if he thinks that these proposals – and his Plan A on the economy - are on the right track.