Labour restores wartime pledge: Policy paper restates fight against unemployment

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LABOUR'S commitment to fight unemployment has been strengthened by an explicit restoration of the 1944 Employment Policy White Paper pledge on which the full employment consensus was built after the Second World War.

A policy paper that Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, is presenting to Labour's new Policy Forum next weekend says: 'Today, almost 3 million British men and women are out of work. This cannot be allowed to continue.'

It says unemployment is a personal tragedy for millions of individuals and families, creating 'an abandoned generation of people, including a wasted generation of 1 million young people, out of work and denied their chance to make a contribution to their own prosperity and to the economy as a whole'.

Responding to that political imperative last February, Mr Brown re- dedicated Labour to what he called a 'full employment society . . . far in advance of the traditional definition of employment'.

However, he did echo at the time the 1944 White Paper call for 'a high and stable level of employment', saying that 'Labour demands management policies have rightly sought to maintain a high and stable level of demand compatible with the economy's capacity to produce'.

The new policy paper, Labour's Economic Approach, goes further. It says: 'Unlike the Tories, Labour offers measures to tackle unemployment that will improve the long- term capacity of the economy.

'That is why the Labour Party, unlike the Tories, is dedicated to restoring the pledge made to the British people as long ago as 1944: 'The Government accepts as one of their primary aims and responsibilities, maintenance of a high and stable level of employment'.'

Attacking unemployment, the policy paper said, had to be a fundamental test of a successful economic policy. It added: 'Britain needs a commitment to responsible government intervention - such as our commitment to the skills revolution - to increase the capacity of the economy so that it can attain high levels of growth and employment.

'Only then can disciplined demand management policies deliver a high and stable level of demand and employment, rising living standards, low inflation and a favourable balance of payments position.

'Without a policy to expand the capacity of the economy, the Tories are about to repeat many of the same mistakes which brought rising imports, worsening trade deficits, and higher interest rates and inflation in the Eighties.'