Thursday, 3 September 2009

Tories...slow off the mark...again!!

Where have Paul Rogers and Dylan Jones Evans been with their blogs challenging whether unemployment in Wales is up or down? These figures were challenged on this blog 3 weeks ago, here, here and here. It is however disingenious of the two Tories to blame the One Wales coalition for these figures as neither the Department of Work and Pensions or the HMRC who produce these figures are devolved responsibilities. It is the Westminster Government who define Economically Active and Inactive and who constantly redefine these terms to serve their own purposes and to make comparing data virtually impossible. Now I have a pretty good recollection of the Thatcher Government and I'm sure that her government redefined terms around unemployment so as to reduce the total numbers...being sick looks better than unemployed doesn't it. The Tories are past masters at hiding bad news by spinning the statistics and the professor knows that very well.

4 comments:

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

I was wondering when the competition for the most asinine blog posting in Wales would begin, but it would seem that you have taken an early lead with a completely ill-informed posting. I was going to ignore it but posting a response was far too tempting
Let me deal with your main points:

"It is however disingenious (sic) of the two Tories to blame the One Wales coalition for these figures as neither the Department of Work and Pensions or the HMRC who produce these figures are devolved responsibilities"

Totally and utterly wrong. First of all, it is the Office for National Statistics – an independent body – which produce the data for the employment and unemployment statistics. These are derived from the Labour Force Survey they undertake on behalf of all the administrations in the UK, including Wales. However, the real irony in your comment which seems to imply that because the statistics are not Welsh and therefore cannot be correct is that the Office for National Statistics is actually based in Newport.

"It is the Westminster Government who define Economically Active and Inactive and who constantly redefine these terms to serve their own purposes and to make comparing data virtually impossible"

Again, this is wrong. The definitions used by the Office for National Statistics are compatible with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of economic status. They are not ‘made up’ by governments of any political colour to suit themselves.

The saddest thing about this entire post is that you seem to give the impression that the failure to deal with unemployment is all the fault of the Labour Government in London, despite the fact that economic development, skills and social policy are all devolved matters and that it is the leader of your party who has responsibility for economic development in the Assembly Government. It is easy for Plaid politicians to claim, as they have done for the last three weeks, that their policies have led to the small decrease in unemployment last month whilst equally forgetting that the same policies (or lack of them) have resulted in 37,000 more people who are unemployed in Wales.

The biggest tragedy for your party is that not one of Plaid’s economic and educational policies from the last Assembly election manifesto (and which were developed by Dafydd Wigley and Eurfyl ap Gwilym) have been implemented.

What happened to business rates cuts to 50,000 businesses? What happened to the promise to seek Treasury support for a corporation tax rebate for west Wales and the Valleys? What happened to your promise that students who studied at Welsh universities would be exempt from top-up fees? What happened to your promise of free laptops?

Two years in, Ieuan Wyn Jones and your party have merely continued the failed economic policies of the last Labour Government which have led to Wales propping up the UK’s economic league table.

Whilst you want to pervesly blame a Conservative Party leader who has been out of office for nineteen years, just remember that in 2009, it is Plaid Cymru, in coalition with Labour, which has done nothing to speed up the utilisation of European funding to help the Welsh economy; it is Plaid Cymru which has broken its promises to helps tens of thousands of Welsh firms by abandoning its central election pledge to cut business rates and it is Plaid Cymru which should share equal responsibility with a discredited Welsh Labour Party for the hundreds of Welsh businesses which have closed in the last twelve months and the thousands of Welsh workers who have, through no fault of their own, been made unemployed.

Anonymous said...

Ww I think you've upset the Professor, hasn't he had a good old rant but he didn't like being reminded that it was Thatcher who first started fiddling the unemployment figures did he. The Prof is just an academic when was the last time he signed on at the Job Centre only to be told that you are not entitled to JSA but Income Support or ESA, the DWP fiddle the figures and then they give the figures to the ONS, might not be according to a textbook but that's the reality of claiming benefits.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Sorry to take so long to reply but I had to find the dictionary meaning of asinine! and to be called stupid by a Tory is something I have come to expect and won't lose any sleep over.

However some of Dylan's replies don't add up:

It may well be that its the ONS that publishes the data but they are based on DWP figures A 100% WESTMINSTER responsibility.When James Purnell a Labour minister changed Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance did that affect the definitions of claimant status? of course it did which explains why there is no correlation between claimants for benefits and unemployment. Did the One Wales coalition have any involvement with Mr Purnell's decision...unlikely!

Dylan then goes on to rant about manifesto policies, you can only deliver manifesto promises if you are in power now Plaid Cymru are in a coalition and the nature of coalition governments are that there are compromises between the partners.

What has further restricted Plaid's ability to implement their manifesto promises is the reduction in public spending caused by the recession which in itself was mainly caused by an unfettered unregulated free market which his party is desperate to deregulate even further.

I note the ease with which Dylan ignores the Thatcher's government's changes to the counting rules to reduce the numbers shown as unemployed, a trend that has continued by every government since.

My aim is now to use the word asinine in a blog and it shouldn't be too difficult if I end up writing another blog about the Tories.

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

As I said, employment, unemployment and economic activity statistics - which are the ones you refer to in your post - are carried out through the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Not once have any of the press releases on unemployment referred to the Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) data collected by the DWP.

It only refers to those who are claiming benefit not those who are unemployed which is defined by the LFS “those without a job, want a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks or who are out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks”.

The fact that as much as 40 per cent of the unemployed don’t claim JSA is why no-one uses it anymore to describe unemployment. They use the LFS data on unemployment instead and, as I pointed out, that is derived from a survey conducted by an independent government sponsored body and the survey has nothing to do with DWP, Margaret Thatcher or any of the changes in the definition of JSA.

That is why I don’t ignore “Thatcher's government's changes to the counting rules to reduce the numbers shown as unemployed, a trend that has continued by every government since” because it is completely irrelevant to the estimates of the unemployed in the UK. In fact, it is the use of the internationally accepted definitions from the LFS which makes it politically acceptable to all, even though it is derived from a survey.

If I were you, I would stop digging now.