Hands up all those who actually know someone in the
Socialist Workers’ Party.
Hmm, just as I thought.
Now hands up all those who think the Socialist Workers’ Party plays a significant role in British public life.
Exactly. The SWP is a marginal, far-left revolutionary grouping of placard-toting obsessives and droning Marxist bores which until very recently had zero public impact except in the context of raucous and occasionally violent demonstrations.
Yet astonishingly, it has all but derailed a key government policy designed to bring jobless youngsters back into the workplace.
This scheme targets 16 to 24-year-olds who have been unemployed for three to nine months, and gives them a work experience placement lasting between two and eight weeks to make them more attractive to employers.
Yesterday’s cold, sparse unemployment figures had a human face. Michael Taylor, an unemployed teacher, appeared on the BBC 10 O’Clock News and spoke in uncompromising terms of what it meant for him to be among the ranks of Britain’s 2.67 million jobless. His voice cracking, Mr Taylor spoke of being “humiliated”. “I feel like it’s my fault”, he said.
I don’t know Michael Taylor’s personal circumstances, or whether there’s truth in his argument that in his North West community, jobs simply aren’t available for those who want them. But he appeared sincere enough. Painfully so.
He was followed by the Prime Minister, who offered his ritual cold comfort. The jobless figures were “disappointing”, but the number of people actually in work was rising, as were the number of job vacancies. He, David Cameron, would be “rolling up his sleeves” to get Britain back to work. Though he appeared to be wearing a very nice suit jacket when he said it.
Unemployment jumped by 48,000 in the quarter to December to 2.67 million, a jobless rate of 8.4 per cent, the worst figure since the end of 1995.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 6,900 in January to 1.6 million, the 11th consecutive monthly increase.
The number of women claiming the allowance increased by 1,500 last month to 531,700, the highest figure since the summer of 1995.
A record number of people are working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs – up by 83,000 over the latest quarter to 1.35 million.
Employment increased by 60,000 to 29 million, mainly due to a rise of 90,000 in the number of part-time employees to 6.6 million.