Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

At long last Europe’s leaders realise youth unemployment has to be top of the agenda

Posted on 29 January 2012 | 12:01pm

Endlich, enfin, AT BLOODY LAST … Europe’s leaders are starting to realise that they might have to do something beyond enjoying the scenery in Davos to address the problem of youth unemployment.

This morning’s Observer leads on the raising of jobs and the young to the top of the agenda for the upcoming EU summit. I repeat – endlich, enfin, at bloody last.

I’m off to Germany this afternoon for a conference on the importance of language to leadership, strategy and crisis management. It might seem obvious that words matter in any political situation. Clear strategy requires the words that explain it clearly. And when it comes to the eurozone crisis the lack of clarity has exposed the lack of strategy.

One of the points I will be making tomorrow is that if you say the words ‘eurozone crisis’, any number of words or images come to mind – Greece, bailout, austerity, unemployment, cuts, US anger, blah and blah and blah … but there is little sense in the public mind of a way out; and that is because none is being properly articulated.

It is not helped by the fact that David Cameron and George Osborne see the crisis as much as an opportunity to score points at the expense of our European partners as to play their full role in addressing the reality of mounting unemployment risking the writing off of a generation.

In their response we are witnessing one of the differences between left and right. Compare and contrast their inaction on unemployment with the zeal with which Tony Blair and Gordon Brown pursued the New Deal in our first term. At the time Tories said the State could make no difference with such ‘grandiose schemes’. The said grandiose scheme worked and the Tory argument, like the one that said the minimum wage would cost a million jobs, melted away.

But under Cameron, for all his talk of a new approach, the Tories are reverting to type. What single concrete proposal have he and Osborne put forward to deal with youth unemployment? On the contrary as part of the cuts programme to deal with the deficit in a single Parliament (the Plan A that isn’t working) one of the first cuts was to axe the Future Jobs Fund. We could do with it now. Like we could do with a bit of the zeal that TB and GB used to bring to European Summits. They may have upset people from time to time. So does Cameron, as with his veto. But unlike Cameron, TB and GB tended to get things done that helped get people into work.

  • Ehtch

    Should be pretty obvious to us all. Christ, life is for the young, not us lot oldies. We should be dead now, or full of pox, or something.in days past. Hate how old people these days think what is good. We should all crawl into a corner and die, I think.

    Well, not die exaxctly, just keep quieter and let the young lads and ladies carry on with life.

    Posted this song elsewhere here last night, sharp end stuff, to show what I mean – great young people trying to cope with life in their own ways, without us old fucks about,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LJtMrhb558

  • Anonymous

    ‘Clear strategy requires the words that explain it clearly.’
    Is it Labour’s economic strategy which isn’t clear or the words that are wrong?  Discuss.

    Pace the AC article, if you clobber the Tories with their record on youth unemployment they’ll say that they’re big on apprenticeships and trying to get whole families off welfare and ‘into work’. Cue slippery sound of straw-clutching.  What they’re actually big on is internships for their friends’ kids.

  • Ehtch

    Noticed my bones have been chapping me in the last day or two, now I know why now,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-16780222

    Ok, so I am a bit of a Merlin on the quiet, and can predict snow. Time to get the snow tyres ready for my wagon!

  • Michele

    Have a good jolly …. wink

    Things are building to a crescendo re Stephen Hester’s bonus and ministers are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of looking as if they’re doing the right thing and capitulating to public opinion.

    What was Danny Alexander etc being admonished with a few months ago by that very public re govt breaching employee contracts?  Boris playing local hero will open the gates for millions of the same. 

  • Olli Issakainen

    Jobs and growth should be a priority.
    Unemployment is not a price worth paying as the Tories think.
    French left is challenging the economic orthodoxy in the eurozone by promising to boost state spending by EUR20bn by 2017.
    This will be paid by higher taxes to the wealthy, a tax on financial transactions plus a 15% rise in taxes on bank profits.
    There will also be a BAN on stock options and trading in toxic financial instruments and caps on bonuses.
    So there is an alternative! It is called economic expansion.
    Unemployment in France is 2.8m.
    The UK economy grew 0.9% in 2011. 1.5% is needed for Britain to just stand still. 2.5% is needed for unemployment to come down. 1.7% was needed for the plan A to work.
    In the final three months the UK economy contracted 0.2%. We are now heading for a double-dip recession thanks to austerity measures of George Osborne.
    More quantitative easing (QE) will be announced by the Bank of England soon. This will add to inflation and destroy the savings of the middle classes.
    Austerity and QE are the best way to destroy the British economy. Austerity kills the growth and jobs.
    Total QE could hit £500bn!
    Britain´s national debt has now hit £1tn. This represents 64.2% of GDP. Figure does not include bank bailouts.
    The deficit will be at least £127bn this fiscal year. Borrowing is £158bn off the track thanks to the failed policies of the Tory-led government. Books will not be balanced by 2015 as promised.
    Mr Osborne withdrew the fiscal stimulus too early. It was a costly mistake.
    Hayekian austerity is killing growth everywhere in Europe. Keynes knew that it was wrong for everyone to try to save at the same time.

  • Chris lancashire

    “The grandiose scheme worked”? Did it Mr Campbell? Any actual figures to back that up? Or is it just the usual opinion presented as fact?

  • Dave Simons

    When I recently saw Roger Daltrey on a TV programme about Ken Russell I did wonder whether he was still singing that Pete Townsend line, ‘I hope I die before I get old’. Because frankly he looked as if he was really enjoying life to the full, even though he has got old. And good for him if he is. Life is for the young and old, never mind all that generation gap crap. And I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be an adolescent again – it was miserable! It was miserable even though, back then, if you wanted a job you just went and asked for one, and you could usually get one – unbelievable as it sounds in this day and age.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Duncan-Phipp-macintyre/525048347 Duncan Phipp-macintyre

    The Spanish situation is dire, awful and a curse on dreams and aspirations. As ever, businesses are using and profiteering from this – work security, conditions, pay and terms for those still in employment are being further screwed and twisted to suit the employer at the cost of the wellbeing of the employee.
    In Spain many, many businesses are small, family concerns. All the more vulnerable for this.
    As ever women, minorities and the disabled are hit hardest and first.
    The number of families who have no money coming in whatsoever – no benefits at all – is a staggering 1.5 million.
    House repossessions abound.
    Portuguese press report a  shockingly similar scenario.
    The new – right wing Spanish government is running down hill, desperate to cut further, faster and deeper.
    It is dire beyond imagining, vast and deep – as a black slick of oil lapping on the pristine shores of the futures of generations.

  • Anonymous

    Olli I suspect I would probably disagree with you on a lot of things.

    But lets see if we can agree on a couple of things.
    1. You mention QE and how it causes inflation. I think that inflation is the worst of all economic crimes against the people that a government can commit. Would you agree? (Its a close run thing with bank bailouts – depends on scale.)

    2. What do you think Keynes would have made of the anti-Keynesian policies of his supposed advocates Brown and Balls as they ran deficits in the good times?

    Also see the post I’m about to write about that good ole Keynesian Obama.

  • Libdem

    Unemployment in France is higher than in the UK and it has been so for a long time. The coalition is following the previous (Labour) government’s debt reduction plan with a miniscule adjustment. You’re placing too much faith in what they’re saying rather than what they’re doing which isn’t very much.

  • Libdem

    If you’re all going to moan about Hester why did your government give him a contract? This ‘crescendo’ is nothing more than hypocrisy but then again why am I not surprised. 

    • Michele

      I am not moaning about Hester.

      Are you able to read and digest or just gobble and swallow without chewing then throw up?

      There is an awful cynicism in Cam/Osbo/Bojo all pretending to want to break this contract.

      It is ONLY to open the gate for themselves to break millions of other people’s and just how will those others have the grounds on which to plead about a principle.

      Wakey wakey pet.

  • Libdem

    It is truly awful in Spain and Greece and Portugal and possibly Ireland too. The Germans aren’t helping anyone other than looking after their own interests. They are the ones in the eurozone insisting on austerity and who is going to argue with them? Now they are even suggesting that the EU appoint a Commissioner to ‘run’ Greece economically.
    The EU knows no bounds when it comes to suppressing the freedom of people and the Germans have just confirmed their place in the whole scheme.

    • Michele

      When I took out my various mortgages over the years I had to prove my incomings, they had to be bona fide proven certified and literal.

      When Greece ‘proved’ its parity with other European currencies in order to join the Euro its govt did so, was allowed to do so by lying. 
      There are startling revelations in a programme being broadcast several time in the coming week.

      Greece’s govt can’t be trusted now, it’s dreadful for everybody but the big bods of the EU have to accept some of the blame for pretending their accounts were believable.
      Perhaps there was even some guilty conscience influencing things …. harking back again to Greece having no gold left ever since its theft in WWII.

      Get off that high horse, Greece has to be rescued.

  • Anonymous

    “The said grandiose scheme worked and the Tory argument, like the one that said the minimum wage would cost a million jobs, melted away.”
    I dunno about Tories, but the minimum wage argument will never go away.

    New Labour saw an economic boom, after which minimum wage was too high. Have we lost those millions jobs by now Alastair? Minimum wage is politics, not economics.

    Lowering the minimum wage now would have negative consequences and very negative political consequences, but it would create more jobs. But of course, why would Brown or Cameron have the guts and integrity to do that when they can just lower all wages by printing money. Its sick. Gilliebc if you are reading, this is the conspiracy.

    As for the economic boom under new Labour, do they deserve credit? Or if we are blaming Reagan/Thatcher for the financial crash, do they also take credit for the Clinton/Blair booms?

  • Ehtch

    Yep, life is a double edged sword – when we were young, we should have really been enjoing ourselves, but we carried on like a bunch of miserable old young gits. Christ, wish I was around then to tell myself to cheer the fuck up too, and get a life, if you get what I’m saying, I think! : )

    And yes, that The Who song has come back to bite them on their arses a bit, hasn’t it Dave?

  • Ehtch

    Furthermore Dave, the Mondays are reforming and touring – well tidy! Now there is a bunch of old gits that could have gone off the radar and stayed there, and to think they are younger than me.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16781683
    Though I didn’t consume eeee’s, I only inhaled(!), always have liked the Mondays,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3XIlEUO-VE
    Baz winning Celebrity Big Bro was a classic moment in TV history, I think.

  • reaguns

    A post has disappeared so I’ll try again.

    Per annum growth in UK has just been announced at = 0.9%.Per annum growth in US has just been announced at = 2.8%.

    So Tory austerity loses, Obama’s Keynesianism wins?

    Except that… our overall spending has risen throughout this year, and ever since the tories were elected.

    Obama on the other hand, in conjunction with congress, has cut overall spending by 4.6%.

    What does this tell us?

  • Michele

    When I took out my various mortgages over the years I had to prove my incomings, they had to be bona fide proven certified and literal.

    When Greece ‘proved’ its parity with other European currencies in order to join the Euro its govt did so, was allowed to do so by lying. 
    There are startling revelations in a programme being broadcast several time in the coming week.

    Greece’s govt can’t be trusted now, it’s dreadful for everybody but the big bods of the EU have to accept some of the blame for pretending their accounts were believable.
    Perhaps there was even some guilty conscience influencing things …. harking back again to Greece having no gold left ever since its theft in WWII.

    Get off that high horse, Greece has to be rescued.

  • Michele

    Hester has stepped back, no contract is being broken, all the short-sighted screaming that it should be have him to thank ….. with even a nod to Clegg.

  • Janiete

    ‘The coalition is following the previous (Labour) government’s debt reduction plan with a miniscule adjustment’
     
    No, they’re not. They are actually on target to exceed Darling’s overall planned spending level through incompetence. On paper the figures may look similar, but it’s how money is spent that will determine success or failure. Hastily putting people on the dole and transferring costs to welfare payments is financially counter productive and extremely socially damaging.
     
    The Tories have learnt nothing from history except to put another party in the firing line. By the next election the public will lump both coalition partners into the same category with the nasty party label.

  • Janiete

     
    ‘The coalition is following the previous (Labour) government’s debt reduction plan with a miniscule adjustment’
     
    No, they’re not. They are actually on target to exceed Darling’s overall planned spending level through incompetence. On paper the figures may look similar, but it’s how money is spent that will determine success or failure. Hastily putting people on the dole and transferring costs to welfare payments is financially counter productive and extremely socially damaging.
     
    The Tories have learnt nothing from history except to put another party in the firing line. By the next election the public will lump both coalition partners into the same category with the nasty party label.

  • Ehtch

    Well there we go, it is buggering down with snow here in Wales/Cymru at present, as predicted by my bones, and my bones now feel as if they are gripped in a vice being quickly tightened. Jesus wept, it is well parky down here – the draughts are going straight through my button holes. Christ, I’ll have to open the fridge door so I can warm up here.

  • Michele

    The above was following a post I can’t find.
    That post was words to the effect that you don’t  seem to READ; you bite, you swallow without chewing and then you throw up whatever your presumption already was.

    I have not posted ANYwhere that I believe the contract should be broken.
    I HAVE posted across the weekend that the only reason The Sham and Bojo are doing their panto act is to appear to cave in to public opinion, break the contract, withhold the bonus and then turn on everyone lower down the pay scale and break theirs too – with glee – having had the precedent demanded by those it would be backfiring on.

    Nick Clegg suggested on Friday that Hester sacrifice the bonus himself.  Well done that man and everyone that wanted the contract broken is a nitwit being led down Sham’s path.

    Now naff off.

  • Michele

    They also have to pay back and get themselves organised so they don’t fail again.

    The best intentions are what led the richer north Eurpopeans to bend the rules for Greece, Italy etc.

    Europe’s Choice :
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01b8xvy

  • Libdem

    Their incompetence as you put it is that they haven’t cut the way Labour has insisted, to quote ‘too far and too fast’. They have barely cut at all when everyone knows that there needs to be a change in the way our money is spent. And it shouldn’t be spent on government jobs-worths for starters of which there are many.

  • Libdem

    What high horse and who do you think should rescue the Greeks? The Europeans knew that most of these countries in difficulty should never have been admitted to the euro; this includes Italy. Due to the political nature of the whole thing, they chose to ignore the financial realities of admitting all and sundry to the common currency.

    When you say the Greek government can’t be trusted now, it couldn’t be trusted then either but they still chose to go ahead and the Europeans knowingly admitted them. Subsequently, the Germans and French were the first 2 countries to break the so-called rules and persuaded everybody else to turn a blind eye and not fine them.

    The biggest beneficiary of the euro is Germany, it therefore makes sense that they dip their hands in their pockets to help all of their ‘customers’.

    Do you think we should bail out these bust eurozone countries when the zone as a whole is not exactly poor and impoverished?

  • Libdem

    Dreamland continues…’best intentions’…you are kidding? They wanted as many in the euro club as possible. And it’s still a prerequisite for membership of the EU.

  • Libdem

    I’m sure you make far more sense talking to yourself you know.

  • Michele

    United Europe pet, spread the jam.

    What sort of liberal and what sort of democrat do you claim to be? 

  • Michele

    You don’t believe people really wanted/still want peace do you?

    Stop looking in the mirror.

  • Michele

    Just had an advice that the glitch with posts is due to ‘no server being available at present’.  Disqus must be over-stretched.

  • Michele

    The high horse of badging yourself how you have.  You are not a liberal or a democrat.  ID yourself with meaningless words that you don’t have to live up to (you will never manage to do so with your present dogtag).

    There is NO (and has been NO)  disagreement from me that the northern Europeans enabled badly-accounted govts to join the Euro; they did so with the BEST intentions, for a united Europe, to raise up the poorer / dependent parts.  If, like Olli, you think it was only so that Germany could stomp all over Europe once again (fiscally if not violently) then say so.

    No, I do NOT think the UK should help save the Euro fiscally, stop projecting targets for your own imagined argument.  UK needs to be co-operative politically and so long as there will be no effect on the pound.  Every wannabe liberal democrat should be on their knees to GB so get down there IF you are a lib or a dem AND honest.

    • Libdem

      You’re the only one who wants to be on their knees to Brown. If you really want to be factual do a bit of research and you’ll find it was Major who kept us out, Brown simply stopped Blair’s ego trip….again!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely! IT connection again?

    Are we ungrateful that these people wish to keep giving us money to build unnecessary systems for them?

    • Libdem

      The only problem reaguns is it’s a bit like credits, they’re paying us with our own money!

  • Anonymous

    The Hester thing has to be seen as a bit of a victory for Ed Miliband, yes?

  • Michele

    I was never a The Who fan at ‘the’ time so a few months ago when my radio blared one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingetc’s favourite tracks …. ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ I was amazed; decades had passed through which I’d never heard it. 
    Roger Daltrey had his throat surgery a little time later.

  • Ehtch

    Our eastern european friends are struggling with a bit of the white stuff at the moment. Send cheap shovels from ebay time it looks to them, made in China no doubt….
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16806687

  • Michele

    John Major? 
    Black Wednesday? 

    Oh yes Tory (actual proper tag, not aka), he certainly made it look for a while as if we’d not even be qualifed to receive an invite.