Not a time for gesture politics

IT took only a matter of hours, on Parliament's resumption, for "normal" politics to return.

Labour leader Ed Miliband demanded an extension of the tax on bankers' bonuses; the Prime Minister said that this was not an immediate priority.

Mr Miliband then sought the return of the Future Jobs Fund; David Cameron, however, said that this was not necessary as he launched a new scheme for apprentices alongside the major supermarkets and others.

And, as Labour warned that the Government's cuts would harm a generation of young people, Ministers responded by saying that they were taking decisive action to cut the deficit – and that the Opposition's plans were uncosted and unaffordable.

No wonder taxpayers are so disillusioned with politics when the future livelihoods of families across Britain are treated with disdain by a ruling elite pre-occupied with partisan pointscoring.

They are also sceptical of Downing Street summits that, on past occasions, have signified gesture politics of the worst kind.

It can only be hoped that yesterday's gathering was far more productive than past "summits" featuring the great and the good.

For Mr Cameron must remember that the number of apprenticeships being unveiled by supermarkets and others needs to be just the beginning of a far greater, and far more ambitious, programme to create a new generation of jobs for young people.

This is particularly pertinent in areas with a high public sector jobs dependency, such as South Yorkshire, and why Mr Cameron should, at the very least, consider Labour's comments on the Future Jobs Fund rather than dismissing his opponents. It would also symbolise the responsible, consensus politics that he once advocated.

And, as the PM reflects upon his own interventions as Opposition leader, he might recall that he demanded concerted action, through the fuel duty escalator, to prevent motorists being priced off the road – and businesses out of existence. Mr Cameron was very vocal on this prior to the election, even though he knew about the parlous states of the public finances. Why the silence now as he tries, slowly, to get Britain's wheels of industry moving again?