The North-East has lost public sector jobs at nearly five times the rate of London, the TUC says.
Austerity measures have resulted in an unequal impact on UK regions with 36,000 public sector jobs having been cut in the region since 2010.
Between 2010 and this year public sector employment in the North-East fell by 13.4 per cent – the biggest drop of any UK region – from 268,000 to 232,000 at the start of this year.
In contrast public sector employment fell by three per cent in London and by 2.5 per cent in the South-East over the same period, analysis of Office for National Statistics data revealed.
The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and SNP have announced their intention to unite against the austerity agenda followed by Westminster’s main political parties.
Callous and vicious austerity measures have impacted heavily upon benefit claimants, low-income families and disabled people.
Policies such as the hated ‘bedroom tax’ and other welfare reforms have led to substantial and significant falls in income for some of Britain’s poorest citizens.
The Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats have all reiterated their pledges to continue spending cuts, of various levels and guises, if they win a majority in the 2015 general election.
Party leaders from the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party say they will “unite whenever possible to battle the Westminster parties’ obsession with austerity”.
Speaking during a meeting at Westminster, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said:
“I am delighted to have the chance to catch up with two other female leaders of anti-austerity parties in the UK. Together, we represent, with the Scottish Green Party, a new way of doing politics, a move away from the business-as-usual model of the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems that no longer represents public opinion.
“We are the voice of real change – a voice that must be represented in the leader debates next year.
“The ‘Green surge’ that has seen membership in England and Wales more than double, and Scottish Green Party membership nearly quadruple in 2014 is a sign of the shifting political landscape.
“Collectively the Green parties will be standing in more than 75% of seats in the UK, reflecting the advance of our political philosophy that rejects austerity and believes that everyone should have access to the resources for a decent quality of life, with certainty, without fear, while we all live collectively within the limits of our one planet.
“And in thinking about future financial stability, we have to focus on the reason for our current difficulties, the near-collapse of our fraud-ridden, reckless, over-large financial sector.
“Green MP Caroline Lucas is an outstanding MP as shown by the numerous awards she has received including the prestigious MP of the year for her work with disadvantaged communities. Electing more Greens next year will help to bring about a peaceful revolution in British politics, towards a government that works for the common good, not just for the few.”
First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said:
“There is no end in sight to the Westminster cuts that are already hitting Scotland hard – the Autumn Statement earlier this month set out another £15bn of cuts that are coming our way. Not only will these cuts continue to hit hard-working families, women and the vulnerable hardest – they will also put growth and competitiveness at risk.
“But despite the deeply damaging impacts of failed austerity, the Tories and Labour have made crystal clear their determination to carry on regardless.
“And after four years propping up the Tories, the Lib Dems have no credibility. It is time for a new approach to UK politics – and for our parties to use our influence to bring about progressive change at Westminster.
“Following the referendum in Scotland, the political landscape has changed utterly. The SNP is now the third biggest political party in the UK in terms of membership.
“Last month we sent this message to the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 – to exclude the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru from general election TV debates would be to wilfully ignore this new political landscape. Put simply, it is just not on.
“Electing a strong group of SNP MPs will ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard at Westminster. Along with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, we will work to do everything possible to tackle inequality and bring about sustainable economic growth.”
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“Plaid Cymru and the SNP provide an alternative to Westminster’s promise of austerity and cuts to public services. As the only parties, together with the Greens, to reject the cuts consensus, it is unjustifiable and undemocratic to exclude our three parties from proposed leaders’ debates during the forthcoming UK elections. I reiterate my calls for Plaid Cymru’s inclusion in those debates in order to ensure the people can exercise their right to question and scrutinise all major parties.
“The people of Wales face a real choice at the election. All three Westminster parties are committed to slash and burn economics. That means cuts for the sake of cuts rather than balancing the books by investment and spreading opportunities. It is likely that there will be another hung parliament after the election. In that scenario, Plaid Cymru could hold the balance of power alongside our colleagues in the SNP. Should that happen, Plaid Cymru will seek a rebalancing of power and wealth in the UK: transferring powers away from London to Wales so more of our fate is in our own hands; spreading investment away from the booming City of London to areas in most need of investment.
“If the people of Wales return a strong contingent of Plaid Cymru MPs in May, then Wales will be best placed to secure an outcome to improve the prospects of our people and communities.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 15 Dec 2014
The Conservatives have said they will target working class Northern voters even as austerity measures continue.
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps hit back at claims the party had “given up on the North” and insisted tomorrow’s Budget will be good news for the region.
With a strong UKIP vote predicted in the upcoming European elections, the party is still way behind any signs of a revived North East presence.
Mr Shapps said he was confident the party could fight back in the region.
He said: “I recognise that we have a long way to go, we took over a recession from the last Government, there was no double dip recession.
“Now there are in the North East 17,000 more people in a job than there were.
> 15,000 of them are self-employed leaflet distributors….
There is just the start of the recovery. I know the North East had some big issues to deal with, the reliance on the public sector, but it is showing good signs.”
He admitted though that there was little hope in sight of an end to Government spending cuts.
“What we need to do now is not create more Government jobs but help create more private sector jobs,” he said.
“There is no short cut. If you believe you can somehow just raise taxes and spend money on jobs we know from years of experience that it just does not work.
“We have come this far, it has been difficult and painful, I totally get that. But what we do not want to do is hand the car keys back to the people who crashed this economy in the first place.”
> No chance of that, they never gave up possession of the car keys in the first place… just got someone else to take the points on their licence (something certain Lib Dems, for example, know all about).
Mr Shapps faces a difficult task turning that economic message into votes in the North East, with a 10% unemployment rate standing as the UK’s highest.
Asked if he feared losing out to UKIP in the region despite the Budget message, Mr Shapps said: “If voters want a referendum the last thing they should do is vote UKIP, because that will just hand power to Labour, and then you will never get what you want.”
Over the weekend Labour had attacked the Tories record in the North, saying it had abandoned the region.
Asked if he thought this was true, Mr Shapps said: “Absolutely not, the North has been the engine of the economy and I think we will see that again in the North, and Conservatives are going to be a part of that.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 18 March 2014