Coalition does not care amout families

Barely a week goes by without the Con-Dem alliance proposing a 19th-century welfare measure that would look extreme even in a Dickens novel.

Last week Iain Duncan Smith told us that the state pension was unaffordable and that those of us lucky enough to be in jobs will be in them until we drop down dead.

This week Mr Duncan Smith is echoing Norman Tebbit's call for the unemployed to "get on their bikes"; that they must move away from communities that they may have lived in for generations, give up their homes, their families and their social networks and move to unfamiliar areas where the jobs are allegedly located, all under the penalty of having their benefits removed if they don't comply.

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At a time of the worst recession for 70 years and the biggest spending cuts ever and official unemployment sitting at 2.5 million, Mr Duncan Smith does not tell us where these jobs are.

Even by Tory standards this is a brutal and cruel measure. This shows the Con-Dem alliance does not care about individuals or families.


Noran Avenue


Iain Duncan Smith (your report, 28 June) says he wants people to move from areas of high unemployment to where there are jobs. Why doesn't he let us know where these jobs are? I know many people who would relocate voluntarily to find work. With the government reducing funding to local authorities and the NHS, the biggest employers in our area, I think mass job creation anywhere in the UK is unlikely.




Has Nick Clegg sounded the death knell for the Liberal Democrats? During the Budget speech, we had the unedifying sight of him sitting like a nodding dog, approving of Conservative measures that he had fought tooth and nail against during the run-up to the election. Then, last Thursday evening on BBC's Question Time we had Vince Cable defending what he had previously said was indefensible - the VAT increase - although he, unlike Clegg, had the grace to look red-faced and uncomfortable.

However, the Lib Dem leader had better make the most of the next five years, and enjoy his ministerial car, for if the Conservatives win the approval of the electorate and get an overall majority next time round, it will be goodbye and curtains for Clegg and Cable.

All my adult life I have voted Liberal, but no more will I support a party that puts power before principles; the hierarchy are like chameleons who change their colour to suit their surroundings. It sticks in my craw to say this but I hope a clear message is sent to the party leader by former supporters, like me, severely punishing them in the Scottish elections next year.


Aldour Gardens


Bill Jamieson (Opinion, 25 June) discusses the number of books he has reviewed about the financial crisis, and one about the 1929 depression. These try to account for what has happened.

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith provided most of the warnings that were needed to have avoided the financial crises of the last 30 years. Smith is either praised or blamed for the idea of free markets, but what he criticised was mercantilism, ie, control of trade by duties and bounties.

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He did not endorse unfettered free markets, but advocated strict rules for banks, and controls of merchants and manufacturers. A house, he wrote, once it has become someone's dwelling, ceases to be part of public funding A frugal man is a public benefactor, a prodigal man is a public enemy.

In 1,000 pages there is clearly a lot more, but that seems to cover most of what has happened to our financial situation. Adam Smith made allowances for the vagaries of human nature, not merely economic numbers.


Tradespark Road


Despite apparent praise from the G20 of George Osborne's emergency Budget, it's becoming clear that this is a Budget that will make Britain's recovery from recession longer, slower and harder than it needs to be. The rise in VAT could even tip us into a double-dip recession (your report, 28 June).

If you have a household that can't pay its debts, you tell it to cut back on spending to free up the cash to pay the debts.

But in a national economy, if you cut back on your spending, economic activity goes down, nobody invests, the amount of tax you take goes down, the amount you pay out in unemployment benefits goes up - and you don't have enough money to pay your debts.

There are plenty of examples of where this has happened. The IMF, for example, imposed that mistaken policy in Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina and hosts of other developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s. So we know what will happen: economies will get weaker, investment will get stymied and it's a downward vicious spiral. Japan did an experiment just like this in 1997; just as it was recovering, it raised VAT and went into another recession.

Cutbacks in Germany, Britain and France will mean all of Europe will suffer, and we're now looking at a long, hard, slow recovery if everybody cuts back at the same time.


Bryson Road