International figures keywords:
Darling you're talking rubbish!
WHAT A turnaround. Just a couple of weeks ago, chancellor Alistair Darling, claimed he could see the green shoots of economic recovery. Many media commentators said so too. Then the Office for National Statistics reported that the British economy shrank again during July-September by a further 0.4% - down 6% over 18 months of uninterrupted decline, the longest downturn since quarterly records began in 1955.
Manufacturing output and construction have fallen by nearly 15%. Investment in new plant has been cut massively, weakening the economy for years to come. An estimated £100 billion worth of output has been lost, leading some economists to say that it will be 2012 before levels recover to those of last spring.
Government policies have completely failed. Nearly £1 trillion has been spent bailing out the banks, guaranteeing top bankers' phenomenal bonuses but little else. A further £175 billion has gone on 'quantitative easing', which may have boosted share prices but credit for small businesses and individuals remains tightly squeezed.
Now, the government and opposition parties are turning the screws on essential public services, wages and jobs. Already, there are 600,000 fewer people in work than at the start of the recession; one in three companies have frozen pay and one in ten have cut pay (The Independent, 24 October).
Of course, statistics for any individual month can register some temporary respite. But it is clear that we are in the midst of a long, painful and protracted recession. Any claims of recovery by Darling should be given as much credence as Gordon Brown's boast that he had ended 'boom and bust' when he was chancellor - before the whole world went into financial meltdown.
In his Alistair-through-the-looking-glass world, Darling is either in complete denial or he's lying through his teeth. The working class will have to wage a determined fightback against this attempt to make us pay for the capitalists' crisis.