Letter in the Guardian today
We observe with increasing dismay the government’s unwillingness to act to prevent the closure of the Vestas wind turbine factory (UK’s wind industry left in doldrums, 8 August). While we are constantly being reassured about a commitment to fighting climate change and unemployment, we are asked to accept that the UK’s only wind turbine factory be allowed to shut and 625 jobs lost. Gordon Brown’s silence on this matter has been deafening. At 1pm today, we will ask him to speak to us at his constituency office in Cowdenbeath. We urge anyone who is concerned about climate change and job losses to join us, or to demonstrate in their local area.
– Aoife Keenan and Katherine McMahon, Edinburgh Vestas Solidarity Group
Good luck Vestas workers supporters in Scotland today. Politics.co.uk reports that the PM is in the Lake District – hopefully not, but if he is and if anyone can collar him there, let us know. Meanwhile, today the Guardian reports on the climbing jobless total:
Unemployment in Britain jumped by 220,000 in the three months to June to 2.435 million, official data showed today, the highest level since 1995.
The Office for National Statistics said that the jobless rate was now 7.8% of the workforce – the highest since 1996, before Labour came to power.
The figures also showed a huge 271,000 drop in the number of people in work – the biggest fall since records began in 1971, although there was a similar fall in the February to April period this year.
The ONS also reported a relatively small rise of 25,000 in the number of people claiming job seeker’s allowance. Under that measure there are now 1.58 million people claiming benefit, equivalent to 4.9% of the workforce which is the highest rate since October 1997.
There is now widespread suspicion among experts that the claimant count figures are not representing the true state of joblessness since many unemployed people are unable to claim benefit. Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions announced an inquiry into the recent divergence between the two measures of unemployment.
Ahead of the figures, the business secretary, Lord Mandelson, admitted this morning that unemployment levels were “unacceptable”, although he insisted that even more people would be out of work if the Tories had been in power during the recession.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mandelson said: “One thing I and the government know is that any such level of unemployment is unacceptable [emphasis added].
“The question is, what is the government doing about it, and what would be the level of unemployment if the government had not intervened in the economy in the way in which we have?”…