Thursday, 9 September 2010

It's getting grimmer up north


from Morning Star, by John Millington

Public-sector cuts planned by the Con-Dem government will plunge huge areas of north-east England and the Midlands into crisis, research released has showed.

Business information group Experian looked into how "economically resilient" each local area would be to sudden economic changes, particularly public-sector job cuts.

Former industrial heartlands in the north and the Midlands fared much worse in the study than their southern counterparts, with Middlesbrough being ranked least able to deal with public-sector cuts.

Other localities that would be least resilient to cuts included Mansfield, Hartlepool, Nottinghamshire, Barrow and Furness, Stoke-on-Trent and Sandwell.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said the forthcoming cuts were akin to a "Genghis Khan-style" onslaught which would leave communities decimated.

"The coalition's economic policies are akin to those of Genghis Khan who swept through central Asia destroying cities and communities without leaving any positive legacy," he said.

Hapless Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted that any economic recovery would be "choppy" and "uneven."

But he insisted that the government was laying the foundations to "rebalance" the economy away from over-reliance on the public sector.

Mr Woodley was having none of it, insisting: "It is clear from the Nick Clegg interview today that there is no plan to create jobs once the public-sector cuts have wreaked havoc on the communities in the north-east and Midlands.

"Unite is working flat-out on the ground to prevent job and service cuts across the UK. We will now be redoubling our efforts."

Chancellor George Osborne has warned that the public sector faces average inflation-adjusted spending cuts of 25 per cent during the lifetime of the current Parliament.

Any cuts will have a bigger impact on areas that have a higher concentration of jobs in the public sector. Currently 42 per cent of Middlesbrough's total employment is in the public sector.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny recalled the suffering of working people and the unemployed during the recession of the 1980s which was made worse by "monetarist ideology."

Looking ahead to trade union co-ordinated resistance to the cuts agenda, Mr Kenny pledged that his union would be at the "forefront of the campaigns to defend jobs and services.

"There will be major campaigns mounted across the country to stop the mindless destruction of jobs and services by a Tory Party hell-bent on using this deficit to pursue the ideology of a smaller state," he added.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The coalition's cuts will condemn some towns in the north-east to heavy unemployment and economic decline.

"But there is a real alternative to the mantra of cuts - this misery could and should be spared."

A spokesman for the PCS union, which is planning a demonstration on October 23 at the comprehensive spending review at the Treasury, said: "It is fanciful for ministers to claim that the private sector will step in and prop up these communities if only the public sector would get out of the way."

And Left Economic Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said the only solution to the economic crisis was "a manufacturing strategy - investing in council-house building, renewable and decentralised energy systems and transport schemes like high-speed rail and electric car manufacture."

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