New job figures boost Tory message ahead of UK election

Cameron says unemployment numbers prove Conservatives' policies are working

 Prime minister David Cameron on the Conservative election campaign bus, near Builth Wells, Wales. Photograph:  Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Prime minister David Cameron on the Conservative election campaign bus, near Builth Wells, Wales. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

 

Job numbers in the UK now stand at a record high and unemployment has fallen back to 1.8 million, according to published figures seized upon by the Conservatives.

Saying that 1,000 jobs have been created for each day over the past five years, prime minister David Cameron told supporters in Wales that he had taken over in No 10 when belief “had hit zero”.

“In these past five years we haven’t just cleared up the mess in Wales,” said Mr Cameron, “We’ve not fixed every problem in Wales – but we are going in the right direction.”

Rounding on Labour leader Ed Miliband, Mr Cameron claimed that Mr Miliband’s refusal to rule out a post-election pact with the Scottish National Party threatens runaway borrowing and spending.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives’ defence of zero hours contracts – where workers do not have guaranteed working hours – is supported by Office of National Statistic figures that two-thirds of those on such contracts do not want more hours than they get.

 

Praise from Europe

Elsewhere, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble praised the Conservatives-Liberal Democrats coalition’s handling of the economy.

 

Backing the balance struck between spending cuts and taxes, Ms Lagarde said: “It’s clearly also delivering results because when we look at the comparative growth rates delivered by various countries in Europe, it’s obvious that what’s happening in the UK has actually worked.”

Mr Schäuble directly praised chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne at an IMF gathering in Washington, saying he had done a “wonderful job” and had a “very good plan for the future”.

Despite the praise, some Conservative MPs are beginning to fret that the campaign is not seeing a long-predicted rise in party support.

Perhaps reflecting the concerns, Mr Osborne last night sought to remind voters of the instability that existed five years ago, warning that a renewal of the Greek crisis could now be on the cards.

“A misstep or a miscalculation could lead to a full-blown crisis of the kind that you saw in the euro zone a couple of years ago,” he said, warning voters that the UK will not be immune from it.

 

Support dropping

Meanwhile, Labour, which has enjoyed the best of the campaigning this week, received a new round of bad news last night in the latest polling from Lord Michael Ashcroft, which warned that the SNP’s lead over the party in Scotland is extending.

 

The SNP is now 11 points ahead in Paisley and Renfrewshire South, where Labour’s Douglas Alexander is the incumbent, while Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy is depending on Conservatives to vote tactically to save his East Renfrewshire seat.

Normally, parties seek to dismiss poor polling figures. But Scottish Labour sought to use them as evidence to encourage former and wavering Labour supporters not to vote for the SNP on May 7th.

“There is no gloss that can be put on these polls,” said a spokesman. “They are bad for Scottish Labour and if they are repeated on election day, two things will happen. The SNP will have more MPs, and David Cameron will walk back into Downing Street again.”