Letter: Wind of recession whips up debate

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was fortunate to be present on Tuesday at the Independent's London conference on the British economy. It was well worth the long journey down from Sunderland, for two important reasons. After spending my working life at the coal face, and coming from an area where for many years we have lived with a very high level of long-term unemployment, it was good to hear so many educated, articulate middle-class professionals express sincere concern at the overall sad state of British

society.

The high standard of debate swept aside a long-standing concern of mine that the political and economic intellect of the nation was reaching the depths plumbed by the United States. At long last, I detect a growing understanding that in economic terms most of us, regardless of our place in society, are interdependent.

Perhaps it is to be regretted that it has taken a deep economic recession, in which the professional classes have not escaped lightly, to bring that about. Indeed, one must wonder, if the unwelcome icy wind of unemployment had not hit that section of society so hard, would the conference and the ensuing debate, admirably organised by the Independent, have taken place?

Yours faithfully,

RON METCALFE

East Herrington,

Sunderland

9 December

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