A turning point for the economy

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with justification, George Osborne will contend that yesterday’s fall in unemployment – and accompanying data on wages and inflation – is a vindication of the austerity agenda at the core of the coalition’s economic strategy.

WITH justification, George Osborne will contend that yesterday’s fall in unemployment – and accompanying data on wages and inflation – is a vindication of the austerity agenda at the core of the coalition’s economic strategy.

For the first time since Mr Osborne became Chancellor, wages are rising faster than the rate of inflation as unemployment falls below seven per cent for the first time since the start of the recession.

From the perspective of the Conservatives, and to a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats, the timing could not be more significant. This data helps to nullify the effectiveness of Ed Miliband’s attack on the “cost of living crisis”, the only policy position of note to be adopted by the Labour leader. Of course, this is not a time for complacency on the part of the coalition. Far from it. The recovery has not been uniform across the whole country and this is highlighted by the fact that the number of individuals out of work in Yorkshire actually rose by 3,000 people.

As such, Mr Osborne and his colleagues need to redouble their efforts to assuage those who claim that the recovery is London-centric and has been built on the back of a resurgence in the housing market – the root causes of the last recession. And it would be remiss of the Tories to take voters for granted ahead of a general election in 12 months’ time. The recovery being experienced in the capital has yet to 
filter through to those marginal seats along the M62 corridor which will determine who governs Britain after May 2015.

To these residents, Labour’s message is still an enticing one – even though the party virtually bankrupted Britain. And the cost of living argument will retain an element of plausibility until Mr Osborne can honour one of his favourite phrases and prove that “we’re all in this together”.

Despite this welcome turnaround in the economy, there’s still much to do – especially here in Yorkshire.

A loss to politics

Mitchell remained a free spirit

TO put Austin Mitchell’s longevity in perspective, he first became the MP for Great Grimsby prior to Margaret Thatcher entering Downing Street. While his decision to stand down at the next election is not a huge surprise as he approaches his 80th birthday, Parliament will be much the poorer without this free spirit.

A colourful character who once changed his name to Austin Haddock to highlight the plight of East Coast fishermen, Mr Mitchell epitomised the traditional role of backbenchers.

He passionately believed that “MPs should decide things for themselves and not become sheep to be driven through lobbies”. If more of his Commons contemporaries were prepared to put their consciences and constituents before their careers, politics may not find itself at such a low ebb.

The former Calendar presenter summed up the current malaise with characteristic modesty: “If politics is kicking the can down the road then it’s time for someone else to give it a more energetic kicking than I can.”

A sad indictment on today’s political classes which have become too London-centric, it would be regrettable if Mr Mitchell was replaced with one of those prototype politicians he holds in such contempt.

Mavericks should still have a place in politics and Mr Mitchell’s retirement leaves a huge void at a time when Parliament could do with more plain-speaking people from Yorkshire to help bring the country to its senses.

Helicopter heroes

Keeping air ambulances flying

CRAIG mitchell will never forget the circumstances behind his marriage proposal to girlfriend Claire Hoyle – nor the role played by those heroes who ensured he lived to see it accepted.

In keeping with tradition, the 30-year-old drove from Leeds to Grimsby to ask his prospective father-in-law’s permission first, but as he returned he was involved in a head-on crash with a lorry.

His airlifting to Hull Royal Infirmary by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance was vital in him securing swift, life-saving attention. A year on, he is now set to tie the knot.

With nearly £10,000 needed each day to keep

the region’s two air ambulances flying, The Yorkshire Post is asking schools, firms and communities to take part in Wear it Yellow Day on July 3, a bid to give the region a suitable Tour de France tinge that will see all proceeds going to the airborne emergency service.

As a charity, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance would be left grounded without such support – and heartwarming stories like this one would not have such a happy ending.