Thursday, April 11, 2013

The scheme for full employment

Actually, while I'm on that subject, there was a throwaway line in the Observer's splash on Labour's proposed welfare reforms that caught my eye. The whole thing's been rather overtaken by events, but if this was supposed to be taken at full value, it's really rather remarkable:
At the heart of Labour's plan is the reinstatement of full employment as a government objective.
Gosh. Full employment hasn't been a genuine policy aim for British Governments since 1979 (although Blair and Brown paid lip service to the idea). The left wing of the Labour Party is excited, but I haven't seen any other analysis of this apparent policy switch.

The only flesh that has been put on this bare bones announcement has been a 'guarantee' that after two years unemployed, people would be offered a "real job with appropriate training funded by the taxing of bankers' bonuses and restructuring pension tax relief for the wealthiest". Ignoring the fact that the wretched bankers' bonus tax seems to have been spent nine times over, this policy isn't new - it was raised (ineptly) last year. There must be more to it than that, surely. A policy to reduce the unemployment rate from 7.5% to the 2-3% associated with full employment would have to be very substantial - a massive increase in Government jobs perhaps? Or a massive reduction in employers' NI (ho ho)?

Either way, it will be interesting to see if this is anything more than grandiose rhetoric - because if it is, Labour might just have committed themselves to the biggest macro-economic shift in policy for a generation. Forward to the past comrades!


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