In Barcelona on Tuesday an estimated 20,000 young people took to the streets. The complaint – cuts to education.
They attached the blame to austerity measures forced on them by the EC. More specifically they blame Angela Merkel. All their woes they blame on an outsider.
Now here in Wales the cause of much unhappiness stems from a decision taken in June 2010, to be specific from George Osborne’s first budget. At the time he had a strategy.
The strategy? To cut the public sector dramatically and reduce the country’s debt. But not to worry the private sector would step in and as the song goes ‘none would be a penny the worst.’
Oh yes, this activity would be based on the economy growing by 2.3% in 2011. And then the throttle would really be down for growth of 2.8% in 2012.
But woe upon woe, the economy didn’t share our dear chancellor’s optimism. The consensus is now of growth of about 0.5% in the economy. Even this look’s optimistic. Yesterday figures show that the economy contracted again. Yes, shrank by 0.3%.
The reasons as to why could fill an economic text book. But put simply and biblically, successive UK governments have been like the five unwise virgins and not made adequate provision for the future.
An over dependent on the financial sector. Manufacturing and production have been allowed to shrink to almost nothing. The country’s skill base is low and to top it all proper investment in infrastructure has been extremely limited.
If the economy was a family, social workers would describe it as dysfunctional.
And the medicine? George’s answer, bleed the patient more. Wrong choice, Mr Osborne.
To squeeze incomes so that consumers can’t spend is wrong on so many levels. But on the simplest of levels no spending means companies won’t invest. Despite many sitting on large cash balances they’re not going to do anything unless there is hope of growth.
So what’s to be done. The agenda should be the same as that demanded by the young of Barcelona. Stop the cuts. Invest in education and skills and much higher investment in infrastructure. Bring hope back.
It’s an agenda for Wales, the UK and Europe as a whole. Mrs Merkel and Mr Cameron had better take their blinkers off and embrace a proper plan for growth.