Tory “compassion” in face of unemployment

A Conservative government would not stand by while unemployment rises in Britain, David Cameron said this afternoon.

Between June and August the number of people without jobs rose by 164,000, increasing the total to 1.79 million.

Mr Cameron moved firmly away from his party’s traditional laissez-faire approach to unemployment as a painful but necessary consequence of a recession.

“There’s a certain approach to this which says that however painful this may be, large-scale unemployment is an unavoidable consequence of recession, that because it’s the natural movement of the markets, all that government can do is stand by and pick up the pieces,” he said at the Conservative Women’s Organisation conference in London.

“I am not one of those people. I wholly disagree with that view.”

The Tory leader argued his party had a responsibility to take action against unemployment because of its values and because “it is in no one’s interests to allow long-term unemployment to take root”.

Mr Cameron said his party would not “walk on by when people lose their jobs”, adding that the prime minister was “taking the British public for fools”.

“We can not allow Gordon Brown’s broken economy to deepen problems in our broken society,” the Tory leader said.

But he failed to present any specific measures the Tory party would implement to deal with the problem. Unemployment is expected to rise further in the coming months as the British economy enters recession.

“The authentic Conservative response to the pain of mass unemployment is a fusion of this compassion with responsibility,” he added.

“Not just throwing money at the problem – because that would be irresponsible. But not just standing by either – because that would be lacking in compassion.”

Mr Cameron said that tomorrow, himself, shadow chancellor George Osborne and shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Michael Gove would be making a “clear announcement on tax changes”.