Social Democracy is dead but not for the Golden Generation…

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Mezza`s Photostream

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Don`t let me hear you say that life is taking you nowhere…Golden Years

I recently spent the day at a surprise birthday party held in honour of my partners ninety- year old Aunt. Travelling to the venue we listened to the depressing news concerning UK housing. It was reported that millions of people are struggling to cover their rents/mortgages, an estimated one million reliant on short term loans each month. This issue weighed heavily on my mind during a discussion at the party with a retired Head-teacher who said to me:

“I belong to the golden generation we had it all, we missed the war but drew all of the massive benefits from the Keynesian/Beveridge post war settlement. Meaning a grant aided education culminating in guaranteed employment post graduation. When I was a young teacher there were job adverts everywhere, pinned on the staffroom notice board pleading with you to leave your current job and go to another. I was of course able to take up my first post without debt, the very thought of having a debt was anathema to my generation. Housing was available with excellent local authority stock to choose and if you didn’t want to go into a council house then mortgage`s were an option and easily obtained because of your professional standing. My generation experienced the liberalisation of the 1960s, the end of deference, the freeing up of society a huge social and cultural shift. We had it all and now in retirement we have full pensions, live in lovely homes that we own outright, we are indeed the golden generation…” Read more of this post

London Calling: From Peoples March 1981 to Workfare labour 2012

John Curran

Image © John Keogh

In the spring of 1981 the UK was in the early stages of a monetarist revolution linked to the economic philosophy of Milton Friedman. Keith Joseph the principal advocate of the `Chicago School’ was forced to abandon his ambition of leading the British Conservative Party after delivering a speech about cycles of depravation where the perceived feckless behaviour of the poor was held to be the key to understanding poverty. The leadership baton was handed to his feisty acolyte and former Conservative Education Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who gained fame in the 1970s, “as Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher”.

Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister in May 1979. Her first words those of Saint Francis of Assisi, uttered as she entered Downing Street, sounded increasingly hollow as the inner cities went up in flames and a war ensued over the Falkland Islands invasion.  Her doctrine at home was the `Resolute Approach` and abroad she earned the new nickname of `Iron Lady.’

Mrs Thatcher faced early opposition from many quarters. She confronted her first enemy within, not the political left but elements of her own cabinet a faction of `One Nation Tories’ contemptuously described as `wets.’ These liberal Tories viewed her agenda as anathema, adhering as they did to an economic orthodoxy forged in the post war consensus. However, the Conservative victory in 1979 was viewed as a mandate to overturn the Keynesian settlement to restructure the UK economy and in doing so laying waste the industrial heartlands of Britain.

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Ups and downs in job numbers in the northeast

Georgia Lewis

Image © Colin

People who probably had no idea the Geneva Motor Show was even happening this week were made well aware of it after a surprise announcement by Nissan. A new compact car is to be manufactured at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, a rare beacon of economic hope and employment in the beleaguered northeast of England.

Sky News was first to jump on the bandwagon with the declaration that it was great news for the job market and they fitted in a spot of Cameron cheerleading because this happened partly because of £9.3 million in support from the government. Never mind that it mostly happened because of £125 million in investment from Nissan – through the Sky News prism, this was irrefutable proof that the Con-Dems are serious about job creation.

First, the good news – this means about 600 new jobs at the plant and when you add in jobs created along the supply chain, up to 2,000 new jobs. Not only are there new positions being created but, for the current employees at the plant, they can enjoy a greater sense of job security. This is great news indeed and will make for many happy households in the northeast.

But let’s not get too excited about an economic revival of the northeast just yet. Last November, multinational mineral resource processing company Rio Tinto announced the closure of an aluminium smelter in Lynemouth, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Blaming carbon taxes for the closure, this has resulted in the loss of 515 jobs. Last May, Indian company Tata Steel cut 1,500 jobs in nearby Teesside and Scunthorpe, a bit further south, again citing the costs involved in reducing emissions. So that’s 2,515 people looking for work many miles north of Westminster.

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Full Employment should be our overarching objective

Ken Macintosh

Image © Ken MacintoshOur task in the Scottish Parliament is not just to secure good government, but to build the good society: a happier, more compassionate and more confident Scotland; a caring society where we look out for one another, not just ourselves; a society that values ambition but not greed; a society where selfishness is balanced out by selflessness.

There may be no individual policy which by itself will deliver the good society, but I am an optimist and I believe full employment should be the overarching aim of government. Read more of this post

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