New blow to Conservatives’ economic credibility

Claims made by the Conservative party at their conference last week about the rate of unemployment have been undermined by new research from the Trades Union Congress.

Claims made by the Conservative party at their conference last week about the rate of unemployment have been undermined by new research from the Trades Union Congress. The findings come at the end of a bad week for the party’s economic credibility. On Saturday, the Guardian revealed a £3 billion mistake in George Osborne’s pension reforms while central bankers have twice undermined David Cameron’s claims on monetary policy.

Last week, Ken Clarke spoke of “a terrible surge in unemployment” while Theresa May said, “We have seen the fastest growth in unemployment on record.” Both quotes were supported by a report titled, “Get Britain Working” which featured a graph (reproduced below) showing unemployment rates in the current recession running ahead of recessions in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. But a new research paper by Nicola Smith of the TUC, published exclusively today by Left Foot Forward, shows that the Conservative party’s analysis of unemployment is suspect.

But the TUC’s research outlines that:

“in the 1980s and the 1990s we entered recession with far higher unemployment rates than during the current recession … [and] while unemployment rates have increased quickly during this recession, the speed of increase was faster in the 1980s.”

The report goes on:

“While the rate of annual change in unemployment started at 0.4 in the 1980s, and rose to around 2.7, it started at a lower point in both the 1990s and the current recession, and a much lower point in the 1970s.”

Nicola Smith concludes that the Conservative party’s chart is based on faulty data since:

“neither myself nor my colleagues can replicate the index, having received no response to our enquiries, we can only conclude that in fact the chart contains an error and may not even represent the intended analysis accurately.”

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