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When it comes to unemployment, they're all right

Published on 24 February 2012

Funny, isn't it, how mass unemployment always strikes when the wrong party is in power?

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The phenomenon is ill-understood, but it never fails. Where joblessness is concerned, the Opposition is always right.

Johann Lamont is certainly right. The latest unemployment figures are shocking. Labour's leader is right about another thing: the outrage is being perpetrated while Alex Salmond is in power. Draw, as she would suggest, your own conclusions.

It turns out, though, that the First Minister is also right. If the Westminster Coalition would only listen to him and stop cutting his budget, sensible policies would be in place to spare young people and women, above all, from the dole.

Can everyone be right? Apparently they can.

Ms Lamont wasn't wrong when she said one in three of all the jobs lost in the UK in the last three months were Scottish jobs. Mr Salmond was correct when he said the Coalition's 30% cut in his capital budget was a legacy of the last Labour government.

Ms Lamont wants us to believe the First Minister is too busy swanking around fussing over independence to worry about jobs. He wants to remind us, meanwhile, that Labour voted against the creation of 25,000 modern apprenticeships and an increase in capital spending.

Ms Lamont says Mr Salmond is guilty of "breath-taking complacency". He says her party won't join in a united effort to see "what can be done".

If you happen to be out of work, none of this will count as inspiring. They all care –"passionately", as a rule – about unemployment. They all sound as if they have the answers. The only problem is the other lot.

It wasn't Ms Lamont's best day. Her performance probably reflected the state of her party across the UK. When Labour can't win a debate on unemployment, things are bad. Did no-one remind her that joblessness was falling when Gordon Brown left office?

Someone should remind Ruth Davidson, meanwhile, that "talking down Scotland" is a snare best avoided. Undaunted, she questioned Mr Salmond's claim that, given independence, the country would be sixth on any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rich list. She believes the statistics are dodgy.

So what was her best guess? Seventh, 17th? We didn't get one.

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