Conservative Party bedtime reading, I guess …
An image from the Conservative Party conference shows a selection of books, the front covers of which include copies of the old Saatchi design from around 1978 for Tory election posters entitled ‘Labour Isn’t Working’. The image is to the right on this page.
Forget that the photo creates the impression that the Tories seem to be hopelessly locked into the Thatcher past, which, of course, I would never suggest, but consider the facts behind the slogan. Was it true that Labour wasn’t working? The impression given was one of a meandering dole queue; that Labour was the party of unemployment and social fecklessness: Labour didn’t care about leaving people on the dole.
This set me thinking about historical unemployment rates, so who better to turn to than the London School of Economics? After some searching through Google, the statistics for the period were there – well, for part of the period, anyway.
The years from 1979 until 1986 were an unmitigated disaster where unemployment were concerned. It rose from 4.2% to 11.9% before the figures started to fall. So Thatcher, the Conservative icon of the second half of the last century deserved the slogan ‘Conservatism Isn’t Working’.
Against the backdrop of ‘Black Monday’, October 19, 1987, when stock markets around the world crashed, shedding a huge value in a very short time, she managed to reduce the total to 6%. How did she do it? Certainly one of the measures was her policy of turning a blind eye to those moving from Unemployment Benefit to Incapacity Benefit, driving jobless figures down. Her party unceremoniously ousted her in 1990, only for John Major to take the reins and watch unemployment soar back up to 10.2%. Only by 1993 did the Major government get a grip on the employment market and start the trend that continued until the beginning of the current economic crisis in 2007.
During the Blair/Brown years the percentage went from 7% at the end of Major’s government to an average of 3.5% until the world economic crisis which began in 2007.
Without any doubt whatever, and despite the old Saatchi advertising campaign for Thatcher, it is definitely the ‘Tories who are not working”.