Friday, August 10, 2007

Britain isn't working

The Exile has an excellent post on a piece of news that has escaped the attentions of many others on the blogosphere. Unemployment in Britain is now higher than it was in 1979. Then it was 4.7%, now it is 5.9%. It's likely the true rate is even higher: many economists believe there are an extra 1.7m 'hidden unemployed. Britain has 8m economically inactive people, the highest rate since records began. But unlike the hue and cry in 1979, when we were told that 'Britain isn't working' and that we needed radical change and reform, there is hardly a murmur today.
I've written before on the great neo-liberal re-write of history, a mythical version of the past which portrays pre-1979 Britain as the 'sick man of Europe', and post 1979 Britain as a dynamic, booming, 'market' economy. But the truth of the matter is that we were much better off then, than we are now. But of course in the great, free, liberal democracy that we live in, no one dare say it.


Dr. Ferris said...

Britain's unemployment hasn't been as bad as it is now since 1979?Goodness gracious. I would have never figured you to be a Thatcherite. I'm positively shattered.

Say it ain't so, Neil.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised unemployment is now higher than it was in 1979. According to ITV's Tonight, employers are paying £2.50 an hour to apprentices and firms are looking abroad for staff because "English people aren't prepared to work long hours in hard manual jobs for low pay." Of course they're not. They're not lazy but they don't want to be exploited. If firms want to recruit staff they should pay them a decent wage with reasonable hours. 20 years ago I earnt £6 an hour for an office job. £2.50 an hour for apprentices is an absolute insult.