I was sent this link yesterday to a handy little map the Labour Party has created to show relative levels of unemployment in 1992 ie the last comparable recession and now. Pretty much everywhere in the country, the picture is the same. There are fewer people unemployed now than there were then.
And one of the reasons for that is that we have a Labour government that does not believe the State can do nothing but must stand idly by while markets decide everything; and a Labour government that does not believe that unemployment is a price worth paying. Instead, under Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling’s leadership, this government has acted, and seen off the worst of the damage that could have been done.
I spent a few minutes yesterday testing the map out by clicking around some of the places I know well.
Take the place where I was born for example, Keighley in West Yorkshire. In ‘92 under John Major there were 35,975 unemployed in the Leeds area. Today there are 23,773. Not good for those 23,773 people out of work of course, but it means there are 34% fewer of them than there were when the last version of do-nothing Toryism was in charge. And there’s far more help and support to get into work than there was back then.
Or take Burnley, which I may have mentioned once or twice before. 3,803 unemployed in ‘92, and 2,441 now. 36% difference. I’m looking forward to the games against Reading on Saturday (6,757 in ‘92, 4,099 now, 39% difference) and the match of the season next week when we unCoyle Bolton (12,885 in ‘92, 8,406 now, 35% difference).
Then there’s Bradford where I had my first term in senior school before we had to move away from Yorkshire after my dad’s accident meant couldn’t practice as a vet any more. 25,277 unemployed in ‘92, as against 15,378 now. A 39% difference.
We moved to Leicester. 18,337 out of work in ‘92, 12,808 now. 30% difference.
My dad was born in the Hebridean island of Tiree and my mum in Ayrshire. Tiree is part of Argyll and Bute, where 4,243 were unemployed in ‘92, and 1,734 now. 59% difference. In East Ayrshire, 7,574 were out of work in ‘92 as opposed to 4,229 now. 44% difference.
My Scottish heritage takes us every year for a holiday at Fort William in the Highlands. 11,460 unemployed in ‘92, 3,910 now. 66% difference. I still have a lot of family elsewhere in Scotland. In ‘92, unemployment across Scotland stood at 251,774. These days, it’s 131,872. 48% difference. My brother is in Glasgow. 48,242 unemployed in ‘92, 23,393 now. 52% difference.
Then there’s my higher education days. Cambridge. 4,386 unemployed in ‘92, 1,920 now. 56% difference.
Tavistock, where I started as a trainee reporter and first met Fiona. 1,881 out of work in ‘92, 558 now. 70% difference.
Since Fiona and I moved to live in London, we’ve lived mainly in Camden. 14,999 unemployed in ‘92, 6,014 now. 60% difference.
The Tories will like to dismiss these figures as fiction. Which reminds me that I’m hundreds of words into a blog and haven’t yet plugged my new novel, Maya. So thinking of the characters in my books, the hero of All in the Mind lives in Chiswick. Hounslow had 11,721 unemployed in ‘92 and 5,477 now. 53% difference.
Maya, which is published on 4 February (price £18.99 from all good bookshops), has two main characters. One lives in Little Venice and the other in Hammersmith. Little Venice is in Westminster, where 12,082 were unemployed in ‘92, 5,265 now. 56% difference. 13,170 were out of work in Hammersmith and Fulham in ‘92, 5,368 now. 59% difference.
I could go on, but you’ve got the point. Now try clicking yourself. If you find a place where the Tories did better, vote for them. If you don’t, join the club. Even better, join the Party and fight to keep the Tories out.