Vince Cable: A million jobs for a stronger economy

A million jobsVince Cable emailed party members last night kicking off the Party’s “A million jobs for a stronger economy” campaign. This is what he said:

This campaign will promote the fact that Liberal Democrats in Government have helped business create more than one million private sector jobs. Our ambition is to help create a million more new jobs.

Click here to find out how you can support the campaign.

I’m proud of our Government’s record on job creation.

Since 2010 we have helped create:

  1. Jobs for young people – 1.2 million apprentices and 110,000 work placements for young people out of work
  2. Jobs in manufacturing – £5.5bn extra into science, high-tech manufacturing and renewable energy
  3. Jobs outside London – £2.6bn in our Regional Growth Fund, giving money to growing businesses around the country
  4. Jobs building Britain – £15.3bn to improve Britain’s roads, railways and housing
  5. Help for job creators – £2,000 cash back to employers on the tax they pay on their employees, to make it more affordable for businesses to take on staff
  6. Green jobs – £3bn to fund the world’s first Green Investment Bank, putting extra money into renewable energy, waste disposal and energy efficiency
  7. Rural jobs – £530m to improve access to superfast broadband, creating jobs and helping rural businesses

Jobs and employment are understandably a top priority for voters, so our record is something we need to talk about.

I’m therefore delighted that over the next year the whole Party will focus on campaigning for A Million Jobs for a Stronger Economy.

Nick got this started today – launching the campaign when announcing BIS sponsored Regional Growth Fund support for businesses in the North East.

I hope that you will take part in one of the many Jobs Campaign Day of Action events across the country tomorrow, and help us promote our jobs message throughout the year.

We have a good record on jobs and I would urge you to join me in talking about it.

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  • Can somebody please think of the children and get one of the dots removed from the ellipsis on the graphic?

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Jun '13 - 10:15am

    “Jobs for young people – 1.2 million apprentices”

    1. Apprenticeships are NOT jobs.
    2. 44% of apprentices are aged over 25 – many of them much older.

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Jun '13 - 10:17am

    @Mike, if you think that’s bad, steer well clear of the million jobs campaign website – the English is appalling.

  • @Mike, I have to admit, even someone with my tender grasp of the English language noticed that mistake (error???). It is a rather appalling mistake (error???) on the part of those who formed this graph. It is one thing to make a typo in a big block of text, but to make such an obvious one in big, bold letters is asking for criticism, especially from those who like to base their arguments on ignoratio elenchi.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Jun '13 - 9:53pm

    Vince Cable

    I’m proud of our Government’s record on job creation

    It’s not “our government”. It’s a government which is mainly Tory and is pushing mainly Tory policies.

    The whole focus of this campaign seems to be to get Liberal Democrats to think of “we” as this government, i.e. to try to make us identify with the Conservative Party, to make us think we are just a branch of this bigger thing which is mainly the Conservative Party.

    If various policies of this government are put forward as what “we” have done, with no clarification on what “we” might be, then any other of the policies of this government might similarly be taken by the general public “our” policies. Unless a clear distinction is made between the Liberal Democrats and the Coalition, we will be judged already to have merged with the Conservatives, as their policies as pushed by this government being ours. This campaign seems very deliberately to be trying NOT to make a clear distinction.

    So it seems to me that underneath this campaign is a precursor to us being merged with the Tories. It is setting the next election up to be “Coalition v. Labour”, with “us” being the Coalition. Of course that means in most places it will be a campaign for the Tories. If people want to vote in favour of this coalition, they will vote Tory. They might perhaps vote LibDem in a LibDem held seat, but that’s it. So we’re being set up for the situation of the mid 20th-century, where the Liberals almost disappared as an independent party, being kept going only in those places where there was a pact with the Tories that they would have the “National” tag.

    I advise anyone who wants the Liberal Democrats to continue to have an independent existence, anyone who wants us to be a party fighting AGAINST the Conservatives and the political right to have NOTHING to do with this campaign. I shall continue to do no work for the party and give nothing to it nationally beyond the minimum membership payment when it pushes this sort of thing.

  • Stephen Donnelly 17th Jun '13 - 12:02am

    @Matthew Huntbach. Perhaps another reading of this would be an attempt to take credit for some the positive things that have come out of the coalition in the hope of attracting votes at forthcoming elections to secure the continuing existence of a strong Liberal Party. Perhaps on sober reflection you might admit that this is the slightly more plausible explanation.

    This seems to be an attempt by the party to campaign on an issue that can be run at both national and local levels. I suggest we drop the cynicism and get behind it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '13 - 8:16am

    @Stephen Donnelly: No, sorry.

    Yes, I know that’s how it could be seen, and of course I can see that’s part of the intention of this. I’d be very happy with it if it was phrased in a way that made it clear that “we” meant the Liberal Democrats, that made it clear that the Liberal Democrats are a small part of a coalition where the larger part is a party whose policies and general way of thinking is very different from ours, and that was unambiguously stating that it was taking credit for things that were identifiably Liberal Democrat initiatives in this coalition. But it is not.

    The way this campaign is oriented, through its use of language and general presentation, is a continuation of the strategy the party has been using since the coalition was formed, forced on it by a leader who cares nothing for party democracy, and who surrounds himself by people like himself, people from privileged backgrounds who are clueless about the life most people live and who are contemptuous of ordinary party members: ad-men, big money people, and members of “think tanks” set up by big money people to promote their interests. They had this idea that we should “own the coalition”, go on and on about how wonderful it is to be “in power”, and grossly exaggerate what we can and are achieving in the coalition.The result is that we have a government which being mostly very right Conservatives is doing mostly very right-wing Conservative things, but almost everyone in the country thinks we are all in favour of what it is doing, that what it is doing is what we Liberal Democrats wanted all along, and the more left-wing image and promises we made in the general election and in all our campaign before that was just us saying whatever we thought would win us votes in order to get “power”, we didn’t really believe in it.

    This campaign comes across as us giving 100% support for all the coalition is doing, just trying to put a positive spin on it, in a way that people won’t believe because they can see how tough the job situation is right now, and have experienced it, they or people close to them.Look at that graphic which shows a line, Labour on one side and Liberal Democrat on the other, as if we now have a Liberal Democrat government. That is setting the next election up to be “Coalition v. Labour”, and the only way that will work is for us to disappear where the Conservatives are the lead coaltion party, and to concentrate just on defending the coalition in those seats we hold. That is, we will become like the 20th century National Liberals who very quickly lost any separate identification from the Conservatives and became merged with them.

    This boasting of how wonderful it is to be “in power” and exaggerating our role in the coalition has done our party no good whatsoever. Our standing has plunged in the opinion polls. Commentators are talking about us winning about 10% of the vote in the net general election. People who used to be strong supporters of ours are deserting us in droves. We have to change it, but this campaign is not doing that. In using “we” in a way that suggests it means the coalition, it identified us the Liberal Democrats as supporters of all the coalition is doing i.e. mostly right-wing Conservative stuff. Most of the people who used to vote for us are very much against that sort of thing, so this campaign will put them off because they’ll see it as more of the Liberal Democrat having become just a brand of the Conservative Party.

    It needn’t have been that way. I’m not opposed to the general idea of the campaign, but I am very much opposed to the presentation.

  • Do we want to take credit for things much of the party would be dubious about. In terms of jobs, we should be fighting for fairness in employment terms, not a few extra hours here or there at poorly paid rates. And neither should we trumpet the fact that we want more of the same. I seem to have banged on about “the new politics” so many times on here – by the response it would seem no-one is much interested in that any more. Have we lost our idealism? (apart from Matthew here, and a few other honourable exceptions!) Over the years we have fought for fundamental change – we are not revolutionaries, in that much fundamental change cannot occur suddenly without massive disruption, violence etc, but we do believe in moving slowly towards a better future for everyone, and especially those suffering disadvantage. Boasting specifically of more PRIVATE SECTOR jobs doesn’t cut it, I am afraid (subtext we have reduced public jobs – those under democratic control). We fought Thatcherism in the 1980s – we should be trying to turn it around now. We allowed ourselves to be misled into thinking the Tories were on the cusp of rejecting Thatcherism, at least partly because we elected and chose people to negotiate for us, who were on the neoliberal edge of our party. This campaign is about trying, Stephen Donnelly, to vindicate them, not about “what the Liberal Democrats have achieved”.

  • Matthew has hit upon the dilemma well.

    In order to ‘justify’ being in the Coalition then the party has to point to some successes. There have been some areas where the LD have driven policy (mainly around civil liberties) and I am sure there could be examples cited where they have actually prevented the Tories doing things they would have liked to do (business deregulation etc).

    The problem is that it is not being sold like this. The example above is one where there is no particular ‘party’ angle to it, and it could equally be claimed by the Tories. The ‘we’ has to mean the Coalition and the danger here is, as spoken about by Matthew, that the battleground will be set up as Coalition vs Labour. It is also more problematic that the story is not as simple as made out and will alienate many of those not living in the South East bubble.

    We are now less than 2 years from the next election and by the beginning of 2014 we will need to see what position the LD take. I find it unlikely that Clegg will be able to concentrate any meaningful fire on the Tories, and will instead focus on Labour. This will again see the LD being seen as Tory sympathisers. Labour, I am sure, would like to portray this as a ‘Coalition vs Labour’ election.

    I think the problem is significant for the Lib Dems and probably goes back to the ‘Rose Garden’ photo op in the heady days of May 2010. I think that will be looked back on as a very poor piece of judgement by the party leadership as it alienated a lot of people who had voted for you a week before – perhaps never to return.

    Coalition is one thing, losing identity and being seen as lapdogs is another

  • Simon Hebditch 17th Jun '13 - 10:13am

    I think this campaign illustrates a problem that I have written about before. The so-called “differentiation” strategy won’t work. As far as the electorate is concerned, the coalition is one government and both parties are jointly responsible for any ensuing policies. We cannot simply pick and choose which policies we like and those we don’t. Therefore, the election will be the Coalition versus Labour – with UKIP and the Greens making forays from the sidelines. I also think that is right. I accept the concept of collective responsibility and, once decisions have been taken, one would expect government ministers, whatever their individual or party views, to reflect the government position.

    If we didn’t want to be in such a position, there is a simple answer. Leave the coalition and re-create a genuinely independent stance. Given that I still favour a different sort of alliance, bringing together the centre left of British politics, I would look forward to us saying good riddance to the current government.

  • Why is not covering an equal timespan both sides of Lib Dems entering government ??? What would have been shown by the two missing ones from the Labour end ????

  • I doubt voters will swallow apprenticeships as the way to reduce youth unemployment. I do accept it reduces the risk of long-term unemployment but those benefits won’t crystallise for years.

    I think the campaign forgets something which is also a complementary achievement of this government, that is that jobs now are also better jobs with shared parental leave, employee co-ops and less tax on the lower paid.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Jun '13 - 7:39pm

    Steve: “Why is not covering an equal timespan both sides of Lib Dems entering government ???”

    I suspect you’ve already guessed the answer. The graph starts at 2008 Q1 because there was a higher number of private sector jobs (23.715 million) in that quarter than at any other time in Labour’s 13-year term of office. So it’s the perfect starting point if your aim is to select data that makes the subsequent fall in employment look as dramatic as possible.

    “What would have been shown by the two missing ones from the Labour end ????”

    2007 Q3: 23.475 million
    2007 Q4: 23.596 million

    A total of 240,000 jobs were created during the two quarters that were very naughtily omitted from the left-hand side of the graph. Include those quarters, and the “million jobs lost” under Labour is cut instantly to 753,000.

    That’s only the start of it. See that first block on the “Lib Dems” side – where the number of jobs goes up by nearly 300,000? That’s 2010 Q2. Labour were actually still in power for the first part of that period, yet the graph credits the whole of it to the Lib Dems! This is actually the largest single-quarter increase on the ONS spreadsheet (which goes back to 1999), so no wonder the Lib Dems are overlooking the fact that they weren’t even in power when it started.

    Here’s another good one. Though the designer of the graphic forgets to mention it, around 250,000 of the “jobs lost” on the Labour side were not lost at all – they were simply transferred from the private to the public sector. These jobs were in the banking sector, and were redesignated late 2008. Some of these jobs returned to the private sector in 2011 – again, the graph makes no allowance for this, instead we are led to believe that these were new jobs, “created” by the Lib Dems in government.

    That “million jobs lost” under Labour simply never happened. It’s an appallingly dishonest piece of work.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '13 - 11:32pm


    It is also more problematic that the story is not as simple as made out and will alienate many of those not living in the South East bubble.

    It will alienate many living in the south-east. Please, please, please do not suppose everyone in the south-east is a wealthy Tory supporter. So much political analysis goes that way. It is just so wrong. There are many poor people in the south, many people who are not Tories, many who hate the Tories and what the Tories stand for. They are most silenced and rendered invisible by the distorting electoral system, which grossly exaggerates the proportion of the south-east that is Tory. A lot of the Liberal Democrat vote in the south-east comes from people who are not Tories, they vote Liberal Democrat because the Liberal Democrats are the anti-Tory party where they are, and unlike Labour the LibDems actually seem to care for people who aren’t urban or northern. It is a GRAVE mistake to suppose the way to attract voters to the LibDems in the south-east is to become more like the Tories.

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Jun '13 - 11:54pm

    Simon Hebditch

    I think this campaign illustrates a problem that I have written about before. The so-called “differentiation” strategy won’t work. As far as the electorate is concerned, the coalition is one government and both parties are jointly responsible for any ensuing policies.

    Yes, that is why from the beginning we should have made sure we didn’t fall into this trap. Instead, the party leadership did, and continues to do, everything it can to push the electorate further into thinking this way.

    From the start we should have avoided the idea of “joint” responsibility meaning equal responsibility. This is a government which is five-sixths Conservative. It is not a joint Conservative-LibDem government in the sense of both parties having equal influence. When our leader put across the idea that it was, he was setting us up for our vote to crash, because the reality of the situation means the coalition’s policies are bound to be much more Tory than LibDem, and therefore it is us who will be seen to have broken our promises by endorsing a different set of policies than those who said we were about, much more than the Tories.

    I appreciate the notion of collective responsibility, but I don’t think that stops us from making clear that government policies are a compromise arising from the balance which the people’s votes and the electoral system gave us in Parliament. But instead of doing this, the leader of our party has gone on and on about the coalition being so wonderful, the fulfillment of our dreams, what we all have been working for over the previous decades, and so losing the idea that it is very much a compromise that is far from what we would want if we were the major party in government.

    When the coalition was set up, we were told it was important to show that coalition governments can work. If a coalition means that the smaller party inevitably loses its separate identity and is forced into the situation where effectively it must merge with the larger party, then we have shown that coalitions DON’T work. If we want to show that coalition work, we need to show that the parties in them can maintain their independence and separate identities.

    It doesn’t seem to me to be impossible to say there is such a thing as Liberal Democrat policy, which is a separate thing from coalition policy. The Liberal Democrats bring their policy into the coalition, and the Conservatives bring Conservative Party policy into the coalition. What comes out as coalition policy is a compromise between the two which inevitably reflects the balance of the two in Parliament.

    This “million jobs” campaign is a party campaign, not a government campaign. Therefore it should be about Liberal Democrat policy, not coalition policy. Yet the whole way it is presented mixes up the two, to the point of being centred round a graphic which seems to suggest that it’s the Liberal Democrats which are the main party in government now. The claims it makes about “a million private sector jobs created” are to a large extent Conservative Party propaganda, the usual stuff about making the rich richer and the poor more desperate and uncomfortable being the way to “create jobs”, twisting of figures so that a job pushed from the public sector to the private sector is a job “created” rather than, as is usually the case, a job casualised and put out to cheap quality low paid workers. This is disgusting. I want nothing to do with this campaign. I hope many other long-term members of the party will also refuse to get involved with it.

  • Matthew,

    I think you are offering an alternative strategy for May – June 2010. You are arguing that we should then have said something like: “We are forced to form this Tory-led coalition for the sake of avoiding economic collapse. We won’t be able to achieve much, because we only have a few seats, so there will be many bad policies which we will just have to put up with. Please give us credit for rescuing the economy and putting that national interest ahead of our party’s own political ambitions and ideals.”

    To be fair, you also said something like that in 2010 itself. If we had done what you suggested, we might indeed have won a few immediate plaudits for our self-sacrifice. However, these would have turned to dust as it became apparent that Osborne wasn’t rescuing our economy from anything, indeed he was making a worse fist of the job than Brown and Darling had done. By now, our traditional centre-left voters would have been screaming at us to abandon our past mistakes, stop putting Tory goals first, and start putting Lib Dem goals first .

    We don’t need an alternative strategy for 2010 any more. We need an alternative strategy for now, which is what Simon Hebditch (and I) are proposing.

  • Matthew

    Fair point

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jun '13 - 1:50pm


    My strategy for May 2010 would have involved the first two of the sentences you put in my mouth, but definitely not the third. If it involved the third, it would suggest that I believed the Conservatives would rescue the economy, which I did not. It was Clegg and the Cleggies who believed that, despite it being the opposite of what they said in the general election campaign, and so supposed that semi-merging with the Tories would bring us electoral reward as Tory policies caused the economy to boom by 2015.

    I said at the time that we should let the Tory-dominated government carry on for long enough to remind people what the Tories are like, and then we should pull the rug on it. By now, the rug should have been pulled. Prior to the rug-pulling, our line should have been that we are letting the government carry on because it’s what the people said they wanted in May 2010 and in May 2011 when they endorsed the electoral distortion that gives the Tories far more of the share of power and us far less than the vote share should have given. What I was saying in 2010 was already based on my belief that Tory economics wouldn’t work, so your suggestion that I was proposing this line because I believed they would work, and that it comes as some sort of surprise to me that they haven’t, is extraordinary.

    Our line back then should have been that we will do what we can with the details, but that the Conservatives being by far the largest party are responsible for the main thrust. We should have been careful to avoid making any statements which suggest direct support for Conservative economics, stating rather that we were acknowledging them as the election winners, and giving them chance to prove their policies work. We should have been careful to hold open the possibility of bringing the government to an end if it as clear the policies were not working and if it was clear the government had lost the trust the people gave it in May 2010.

    I think if you look back on what I have written since May 2010, you will find I have been consistent in this. I put it forward again now not just as a pointless “what if” statement, but because I believe Clegg and the Cleggies should face judgment on whether they have handled the situation competently. I believe they have made huge mistakes which were fairly predictable in May 2010, and indeed I predicted them. People who make big mistakes should resign. Organisations should replace leaders if those leaders prove incompetent.

    What has saddened me most is the steady drip-drip resignation from the party of people who remained silent until they left. So far as I am concerned, the right-wing of the party is bad, but the gutlessness of the left-wing is worse. I have at least made a stand, rather than stayed quiet and left. How very different it might have been if many more others had done likewise.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jun '13 - 3:46pm


    It wouldn’t do to contrast our performance versus the continent however, for we had the advantage of a floating currency to regain competitiveness, where they had only grinding wage deflation to achieve the same.

    I wish those who sing the praises of the ability to devalue one’s currency had the honesty to state what it really means. What they are really advocating is a stealth wealth tax – the country gets out of its economic problems by, in effect, taking a proportion of everyone’s cash.

    People in Cyprus went up in arms when there was a proposal for a wealth tax, yet if Cyprus was not in the Euro and so instead of that there was a devaluation of its currency, the net effect would be the same.

  • David Allen 18th Jun '13 - 3:47pm

    Thanks for the clarification Matthew. Well, I guess that the problem with your “We should let the Tory-dominated government carry on for long enough to remind people what the Tories are like, and then we should pull the rug on it.” was that it would have sounded like political game-playing, at a time when people were scared of financial mayhem and wouldn’t have wanted to see politicians overtly playing games. At any rate, nobody bought it.

    You are on much firmer ground when you point out that it can be valid for politicians to rake over the past, in order to reward people who made good decisions and punish those who didn’t. I think that you, and I, and millions of ex-Lib Dem voters, did all predict the mistakes that Clegg made. The public are punishing him the way they know how, which is preparing to bury the Lib Dems at the next election. As you say, it is past time for left-of-centre Lib Dem activists to make their own stand – and go “on strike”!

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jun '13 - 4:05pm

    Stuart Mitchell

    The graph starts at 2008 Q1 because there was a higher number of private sector jobs (23.715 million) in that quarter than at any other time in Labour’s 13-year term of office.


    This is yet another reason why this campaign is so bad, and anyone who wants our party to recover should have nothing to do with it. The figures are fiddled in a way that comes across as “typical politician” in the pejorative sense that those words would now generally be used. It makes us look like a bunch of shady salespeople, flashing dubious statistics in the hope of getting a commission, just like all those who mis-sold financial products such as PPI, endowment mortgages, private pensions etc. Doing this just doesn’t work, it alienates us from the people. People in this country are not experiencing a glut of jobs. I know of many people who are desperate for jobs, applying for several every week, yet getting nowhere after months and years – and this in the supposedly prosperous south-east. If you tell such people “Rejoice – a million jobs created”, they not only will not believe you, they will regard you with contempt for being completely out of touch with reality. If it is easy to pull out bits of the presentation which are obviously fiddled, as is the case here, then people won’t trust even the bits that are reasonable.

    Why can’t the people leading our party see this? We are losing votes because we have not taken care to distinguish ourselves from the Conservatives, we are losing votes because our over-optimistic and exaggerated claims just serve to alienate us even further from the voters. So why do they push on us a campaign which makes both these mistakes, and does so more deeply than before? Remember Healey’s law? Well t his campaign is us in a hole digging furiously.

    The silly thing is that underneath this could be a good campaign. What people want now is honesty, not flashy sales techniques. If we’d just been honest about our position all along, I think we’d be doing much better.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jun '13 - 4:22pm

    David Allen

    Well, I guess that the problem with your “We should let the Tory-dominated government carry on for long enough to remind people what the Tories are like, and then we should pull the rug on it.” was that it would have sounded like political game-playing, at a time when people were scared of financial mayhem

    Yes, but I’m not suggesting we should have come out openly and said this.What I’m saying is that our lines on forming the coalition should have been less triumphalist, with less exaggeration about our influence in it, no suggestion that it was some sort of ideological alliance, and much more about it being us accepting the electorate’s verdict even though it was a verdict that was disappointing for us. We should have made sure we had an escape route ready and planned, but instead Nick Clegg locked the door and threw away the key.

    What I’m saying just just pure common sense. One needs to have contingencies in any endeavour, and we needed one here, that is, we needed a back-up plan in case the Tories did not do well with the economy. We had, after all, campaigned in the general election saying their policies were too much on the austerity side, would therefore kill demand and drive the economy down. We were right. We should have seen that even if the Tories did manage to turn things round, it would be at the cost of a lot of pain, and therefore it was advisable to make sure we were not too much associated with it. We should have believed what we said in the election.

    I supported the formation of the coalition because I could see any sort “we’ll pick and choose what we back” situation would have been seen just as you put it: “political game-playing, at a time when people were scared of financial mayhem”. However, I did not support it in the way Nick Clegg has played it ever since, and neither I think did most party members. From the start he gave the impression of instant conversion to the economic philosophy of the Conservative Party, and from the start confused his self-satisfaction at getting a government post onto the rest of the party, as if our entire purpose was to get a comfy job for Mr Clegg. And then he insulted and continues to insult all of us who aren’t happy with this, accusing us of being cowards, getting his henchmen to write articles in the national media suggesting we aren’t welcome in the party and ought to leave it and join Labour. The man is a disaster, we have to get rid of him.

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