Jobless risk is Labour legacy

ONE of the legacies of Labour's years of largesse will undoubtedly be all the shiny new schools and hospitals. Another, however, could be the lines of unemployed people winding their way around job centres in Yorkshire. The threat of a "second wave recession" poses a clear and present danger to the future of this region – whoever wins the General Election.

Many will wonder how it has come to this. In its first 10 years in office, Labour spent heavily in an attempt to bring Britain's infrastructure into the 21st century. Now cuts are guaranteed, and they will mean thousands more people go out of work.

The vision outlined by the Centre for Cities is alarming. If realised, it would see Yorkshire become a divided landscape, with Leeds maintaining its role as an economic powerhouse but towns like Doncaster and Barnsley facing stagnation or even a further downturn.

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A "jobless recovery" is a real possibility in some parts of the region. Inaugurating a new generation of deprivation would open a Pandora's box, however, and risk creating an increase in crime, failings in education and a rise in extremism, to name but three problems. This cannot be allowed to happen.

While each part of the UK will have its own claim as to why it should be spared the cruellest cuts, Yorkshire's case is compelling. The region will be one of the worst affected by the downturn, with the economy expected to have shrunk by five per cent in 2009, and all those working in the financial sector fear there could be another round of heavy job losses over the next two months.

The winner of the election needs to learn the lesson of Labour's first two terms, that the main goal of investment in public services should be to improve standards rather than to create jobs and keep people in them. The next Government needs to stimulate the private sector, make life easier for small businesses to flourish and ensure Britain once again becomes a centre for foreign investment.

The three leading parties have all, in a manner of speaking, promised to roll back the frontiers of the state. They must prove they can do it without harming Yorkshire.