Is Lucy Powell the right candidate for Manchester Withington?

Lucy Powell has some of the qualities to make a good politician. In particular she is hard-working and believes in the cause. However, there are two debilitating hurdles she needs to overcome. (see also here)

First, is that she stands for a political party that has undermined public services for a generation. By creating a structural deficit in the boom years, by my estimates, up half the National Debt of £1400bn in 2014 will be due to Labour’s policies, with less than a fifth the hang-over of the world recession.

Second, one of the worst aspects of the present government is failure to admit when their errors and learn from that experience. In the wake of defeat of the Manchester Congestion Charge by 4 to 1, Ms Powell wrote in the Guardian on 12th Dec 2008

 “Even after a big public information campaign, the basic facts of the proposed scheme just didn’t get through. It was a complex set of proposals, which were not readily understood. There remains much confusion and misunderstanding about them.”

I suggest, after an enormous expenditure of public money to vote in favour, people understood exactly what was proposed. Though only 20% of adults would have paid the charge, there were loads of voters who know someone who would be. Like donating to disaster relief, lots of people sacrificed a little to help a minority a lot. It would be a mark of political maturity for Ms Powell to recognise this aspect.

Update – Ms Powell’s strong support for the congestion charge caused her to make a little video.

Fraser Nelson misses the mark on Jobs for Foreigners

Fraser Nelson of the Spectator has been making the headlines today with his report that the jobs growth since is almost entirely accounted for by increases in foreign workers.

However, whilst the two figures might be the same in size, they are not actually the same thing.  Nor did today’s debate did not bring out the full difference. You must remember that the unemployment is now higher than in 1997 due to the recession. Netting this out means that at an equivalent point in the cycle, there are more jobs for British workers, as well as there being jobs for the recent immigrants. The implication that many might draw – that foreign workers are taking British jobs – is therefore harder to sustain. Also to get a more balanced assessment, you would have to see the proportion of foreign workers that have returned home (e.g. the Poles in the building trades) as a result of the recession. If it is in the hundreds of thousands, the British economy benefits from their work, but does not have to fund their unemployment.

To be also be fair on Gordon Brown, the large numbers on benefits is a separate issue. In the absence of immigration, the extra jobs would not have emerged. Instead you would have had some of the boom choked off by much higher rates for trades people and cleaners. Remember the £100,000-a-year plumbers before the Poles arrived?