The divided generations

ED MILIBAND may be floundering in his attempts to lay a glove on the coalition Government, but a report published today, highlighting the people missing out on Britain’s economic recovery, offers a clear line of attack should Labour have the wherewithal to take it.

In spite of Britain having one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with surging employment, new research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that earnings remain lower than they were five years ago and, while more and more people are moving from unemployment into work, most can only find low-paid jobs.

Indeed, with many of those moving into work being young people, the report paints a picture of a nation increasingly divided across the generations, with poverty among pensioners substantially reduced over the past decade.

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According to the research, a financially secure, home-owning older generation now presents a stark contrast to their low-earning children and grandchildren, left to eke out a living in rented accommodation with little hope of ever joining their property-owning forebears.

In fact, with education reforms still insufficient to guarantee a way out of poverty ­– the proportion of schools judged “inadequate” in Yorkshire has risen by three per cent in the past five years – the overall picture is dismal indeed.

And while the responsibility for this situation can be laid at numerous doors – Gordon Brown’s tax credits are now widely recognised as putting a brake on firms offering good salaries to those trapped on them – the onus for sorting it out lies with the Government, particularly if David Cameron intends to go into the General Election trumpeting economic growth as his main achievement.

The stark statistics in this report make it clear that there is no room for complacency or triumphalism from the Conservatives.

Instead, what is needed is a recognition that there is much hard work to be done before Britain is a land where opportunities for good jobs, decent homes and secure futures are available to all.

Terror alert: Advice must not be ignored

WHEN THE Government raises the terrorism threat level and very little appears to happen, it is understandable if a degree of cynicism and loss of interest develops. Life, after all, is too hectic to be constantly concerned about terrorist attacks.

The awful truth, however, is that this country has come uncomfortably close to all manner of carnage on numerous occasions since the devastation of the 7/7 London bombings nine years ago. Indeed, the sheer number of cases that have come before the courts since then pay testament to the fact that it is only the vigilance of the security agencies that is keeping Britain safe.

This is why those security agencies need all the help they can get from the public and why the latest plea to the rural communities of Yorkshire should be heeded seriously.

Of course, the tranquillity of the Dales is not most people’s idea of a backdrop to terrorism. But the reality is that even the most minor incident, such as the theft of a bag of fertiliser from a farmyard, could have a deeply sinister purpose and it is important that everyone keeps an eye out for signs that an act of terrorism may be being prepared.

This, of course, will provoke hollow laughter among those householders who have struggled in recent years to get the police to pay attention to minor crimes. But no one, whether police or public, should take terrorism lightly and it is vital that this new campaign to raise awareness across the region receives full co-operation.

Hail Hamilton: Britain’s two-time champion

FORMULA ONE may be a sport beset by problems, but no one can deny the skill and professionalism that has made Lewis Hamilton the first Briton in 43 years to win the championship twice over.

After months spent battling his team-mate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton has won sporting honour for his country in a year largely barren of notable successes. And he has done it in a sport that demands the highest levels of fitness, dedication and courage.

It is true, of course, that the modern-day car is a technological marvel that would have been almost unrecognisable in the heyday of Sir Jackie Stewart. But becoming champion still demands skill of the highest order. And with Hamilton possessing this in abundance, who would bet against him emulating Sir Jackie’s feat of three world titles?