Jobless total unacceptable, admits Mandelson

Author: By James Tapsfield, Press Association

But the Business Secretary insisted that even more people would be out of work
if the Tories had been in power during the recession.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the peer said: “One thing I and
the Government know is that any such level of unemployment is unacceptable.

“The question is, what is the Government doing about it, and what would be the
level of unemployment if the Government had not intervened in the economy in
the way in which we have?”

Lord Mandelson – currently “minding the shop” in Downing Street while Gordon
Brown takes a holiday – said £5 billion was being spent on getting people
back into jobs, whereas the Conservatives wanted to cut state investment in
the economy by a similar amount.

He also renewed his attack on shadow chancellor George Osborne, branding his
claim that the Tories were now the “progressive” force in British politics
“rank hypocrisy” and “laughable”.

Lord Mandelson said: “We are now investing £5 billion on helping people into
jobs and helping those who, through no fault of their own, are finding
themselves unemployed.

“Incidentally, that is £5 billion, which is exactly the equivalent of the sum
that the Conservatives say they would cut from public spending, take
straight out of the economy as we try to get out of this recession.”

Turning to Mr Osborne’s comments yesterday, the Cabinet minister insisted that
the Opposition’s ideas for reforming public services would “drive” people to
private education and private healthcare.

“When the Tories talk euphemistically about independent provision, they are
talking about private provision for those who can afford it, and no safety
net, no social justice for those who can,” he said.

“That exposes the gross hypocrisy and audacity of George Osborne’s claim that
he was making yesterday to represent a party of progressives.

“I have never heard anything more laughable in my life.”

Lord Mandelson said he was “concerned” about the impact of the recession on
the less well-off.

But he went on: “Social mobility is not getting worse. It is not getting
better as quickly as we originally wanted to see.”

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