Unemployment: Forgotten Issue?
According to the opinion polls unemployment is not an issue. But ask any of the thousands of people who have just lost their jobs or their houses recently, or are earning less than they were five years ago, and you would find a completely different story. Carry out a poll in London, and as you would expect, its not an issue. Carry out the same pole in the rest of the U.K. and you would get an accurate answer.
When Mr Blair came to power in 1997, just over 2 million people were out of work. Labour spent millions seeking to cut dole queues with programmes such as the New Deal for the young unemployed.
But in recent months the rate has been creeping up again and currently stands at 1.7 million, according to the ILO labour force survey.
Although the way unemployment is measured has changed over the years, both the ILO survey, which measures the number of people seeking work, and the claimant count are roughly the same as they were in 1979.
At that time it was seen as a national scandal, with the Conservatives claiming in an iconic general election poster "Labour isn't working".