I’m a bit late to this one (somehow my days having been eaten by the combined monsters of writing and Skyrim), but last Thursday saw the Dear Leader, David Cameron, leave the Westminster bubble briefly on a jaunt to Maidenhead. Actually, it was something of a week-long jaunt, which saw him go all the way up to Salford and annoy, in addition to everyone he came into direct contact with, nurses nationwide.
But in Maidenhead he met with a group of 100 business men and women, for a Q&A. Obviously, things aren’t going to plan on the economic front. He said that cutting public spending to the quick would get growth going; it hasn’t. He said that the destruction of untold numbers of public sector jobs would result in a private sector employment boom; it didn’t. He said that his government would reduce borrowing; it hasn’t.
So what to do if you’re a staunch conservative whose policies and ideology are having the exact opposite affect you (but few others) expected them to do? Blame it on ancillary factors! The biggest “commitment” to come out of Cameron’s Maidenhead photo op was a pledge to cut away the red tape. This means deregulation, the very thing which everyone has pretty much agreed caused the financial crisis in the first place.
Cameron wants to remove a whole tranche of worker protection regulations. We’ve already heard how workers will have to have been employed for two years before they can go to a tribunal if unfairly dismissed, but the Tories want to make it even easier to sack people.
They believe that it is too easy for a sacked worker to take their former-employer to court and get compensation. I don’t think this stands up to any sort of scrutiny really, and I’m not the only one, but I struggle simply with the idea that making it easy to sack people will improve the situation.
The suggestion that the reason that there are so few jobs available because cautious employers are too nervous to take on workers that they may not be able to sack is ridiculous. There are so few jobs because businesses cannot afford to take on staff. The economy is crawling along, and the banks aren’t lending to small businesses- something which the government’s Project Merlin was supposed to solve, but didn’t.
Added to that, if you make it easier to sack people, then consumer confidence will take a huge dent. If people are worrying that they could be sacked at any moment (the counter-argument seeming to be that whilst there are unscrupulous employees, there would never be unscrupulous employers; I’m sure we all believe that…) then they aren’t going to rush out and spend, they’ll save. Which would cause another contraction in economic growth. Which is exactly what we all need.
In short, Cameron came to a Q&A in Maidenhead with a lot of ideological waffle, but still nothing in the way of actual answers.