On 19 March, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) boss Amber Rudd took to Twitter to celebrate her department’s record. Given her own record for getting thoroughly rinsed on Twitter, you might have thought Rudd had learned her lesson. But it appears she hasn’t.
Ten years ago the number of unemployed people hit TWO MILLION.
Today the unemployment rate is at its lowest since 1975.
It’s a chilling reminder of the damage Labour did to our economy.
And we must get a Brexit deal to unleash our economy even further.https://t.co/kf11vhlbLp
— Amber Rudd MP (@AmberRuddHR) March 19, 2019
Where to start?
There were so many problems with Rudd’s tweet that it’s hard to know where to start. From record levels of homelessness, to reliance on foodbanks and the devastation caused by Universal Credit, the list of damage done by this Conservative government is long:
In 2010 Foodbank parcels handed out was 41,000 today it's passed the 1.2m mark, this will be what your cruel government will be remembered for, among many other nasty things, from Windrush to Grenfell to 120k Austerity linked deaths
— Valleyboy (@welshlad79) March 20, 2019
Please explain if you’re so good, why homelessness, food bank use & in work poverty has increased? Why did the UN condemn the impact of your austerity policies? How many of those employed are on zero hour contacts?
— Angela Perrett (@AngelaPerrett) March 20, 2019
Massaging the statistics
The Office for National Statistics sets out how work is defined for the purposes of employment figures:
The number of people in employment in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 years and over who did one hour or more of paid work per week and those who had a job that they were temporarily away from (for example, because they were on holiday or off sick).
It was therefore perhaps unsurprising that people pointed out the flaw with Rudd’s celebration of these statistics:
If this were true, the economy would be very healthy. If you include 'work' as being minimal 1 hour a week and in work poverty I guess your numbers would look great.
It was an international financial crash.
Brexit will unleash extreme damage.
This will be your legacy.
— @traceyS (@TSax500) March 20, 2019
Congratulations to you. Because serious industry is thriving? 🤔….Hold on! If I work in 5 different cafe’s and get a cleaning job then I stand a chance of breaking even..Oh look! Loads of employment.
— Charlie Waldron (@GStar4696) March 20, 2019
Come on Amber. In the real world people are juggling 3 zero contract jobs and self-employed for a few £000 a year. What you call petty cash
— Chris McG🇪🇺🇮🇪🏴 (@chrismcg21) March 20, 2019
Other people thought there might be another reason why employment rates have gone up:
Could that be because more women aged 60-65 are now in work because of the change in retirement age? Could it be because more people work beyond retirement age to make ends because of austerity?
— randnet (@opnsrcersistnce) March 20, 2019
Blaming Labour – change the record!
Rudd’s “chilling reminder” about Labour also fell on deaf ears. As social media users highlighted, Labour wasn’t to blame for the state of the economy:
Im appalled you're taking swipes at previous Labour govt. How about we talk about the last 9 years of gutless austerity Tories have inflicted on our society. Public services are at breaking point. The state of our nation, the disarray and sheer choas all thanks to Tory polices.
— Nikki (@AngelMusik2011) March 20, 2019
In fact, it was bankers that caused the financial 2008 crash, not the Labour government.
Enough is enough
One tweet managed to sum up succinctly all the problems with Rudd’s assertions:
1) Global crash not caused by Labour.
2) Unemployment is no measure of prosperity when ZHCs/low pay mean workers can't afford food.
3) Tories have stalled recovery for last 10 years.
4) 3 million unemployed under Thatcher.
3) Block capitals are a sign of creeping trollification.
— Helen the Zen (@helenmallam) March 20, 2019
And others found a simple visual representation the best way to express their feelings:
Do tell me the truth Amber. pic.twitter.com/1NJ6RqfjNQ
— Rick The People's Poet (@rick_poet) March 19, 2019
— benny mill (@olemolyee) March 19, 2019
Conservative-led governments since 2010 have caused immense damage and the DWP has caused enormous suffering. But people won’t forget. And when a general election is eventually called, let’s hope Rudd loses her small majority and is kicked out of parliament for good.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.