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.