Today's major news is the shock increase in unemployment, despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister to divert our attention from this by announcing a date when our armed forces will leave Iraq. The number of people out of work rose by 137,000 to 1.83 million in the 3 months to October. These figures will have surprised none of us who have been talking to businesses over recent weeks. But it seems that they have come as a great surprise to the Government. I listened to Government Minister, Tony McNulty on Newsnight tonight. For much of the time, he didn't seem to know what he was talking about - and not for the first time..
Mr McNulty said that he'd been expecting an increase of around 35,000 to 50,00. Then he was asked why the Government has announced that it intends to raise taxes on business, which is where new jobs will eventually come from. His answer was so meaningless that I cannot remember it. He also told us that the Government is going to look at all those people on Incapacity Benefit, and force around one million of them to find a job. He didn't tell us where these jobs were coming from - because it was obvious Mr McNulty had no idea. However he was very keen to make political points against the Conservatives. Mr McNulty has a reputation for being very good at this.
And then we had a businessman on to ask questions of him. What he wanted was for people from a programme called Dragon's Den and himself to be asked to guide the Government. He also wanted the Conservatives to abandon opposition and give uncritical support to the Government. In particular there should be an end to bickering. All this was supposed to inform viewers of what today's figures mean. Ah well.