Living standards and job creation take centre stage in second day of campaigning

Ed Balls announces small business support

Ed Balls announcing Labour’s support for small business in Swindon. Image: SwindonWeb Television (via YouTube)

  • Conservatives and Lib Dems celebrate figures showing that levels of disposable income have risen.
  • But Labour emphasise the fact that GDP per head is still lower than pre-crisis levels.
  • David Cameron announces that the Conservatives would aim to provide a job ‘for everyone who wants one’ by 2020.
  • Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and Labour also make election promises.
  • Ken Loach launches the Left Unity manifesto at a Soho squat.

Parties disagree over income figures

New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have been interpreted as a sign of the coalition’s success by the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

But Labour argue that the numbers actually reveal the failure of the government’s economic policy.

Chancellor George Osborne pointed to the fact that real household disposable income has risen since the coalition came to power, and that GDP growth was at 0.6% for the last quarter of 2014.

The Labour party have emphasised the sluggish rate of recovery and the fact that GDP per head still remains below pre-recession levels.

The numbers show that although recovery is slow, living standards are now back to the level they were at at the time of the last election.

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David Cameron’s ambitious job-creation plans

David Cameron has set out plans to reach ‘effective full employment’ and to help businesses create two million new jobs by 2020 if the Conservatives come to power.

Union leaders, including the head of the GMB Paul Kenny and leader of the RMT Mick Cash, have voiced scepticism.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said:

It is hard to see how the Conservatives will create an additional two million jobs over the course of the next parliament. Imposing savage spending cuts on the public sector will suck demand out of the economy and make hundreds of thousands of public servants redundant.

But Mr Cameron says that the ambitious plan to create 1,000 jobs each day would be achieved by backing business, cutting red tape, and investing in infrastructure.

Election promises from other parties

Labour’s Ed Balls has announced that the party would cut business rates for 1.5 million small companies if they win the election.

The party has been unveiling its ‘Better Plan for Business’, arguing for a simpler and fairer tax system for small businesses.

The Lib Dems have been launching their ‘manifesto for the mind’, pledging more than £2 billion of extra funding for mental health services.

And Plaid Cymru have launched their manifesto today, setting out plans to raise the minimum wage and calling for an end to austerity.

Leader Leanne Wood said:

By its own terms, austerity has failed to deliver. The deficit has not been eliminated.
The UK’s debt is rising and is over £1.4 trillion… It’s time to end the austerity experiment.

UKIP has unveiled a new set of posters claiming that the Conservatives have failed to meet their promises on immigration.

Left Unity manifesto launch

Left Unity, the left-wing party formed in 2013, have launched their General Election manifesto at a Soho squat in a bid to highlight the number of large buildings sitting empty in London.

The manifesto has been presented by film director Ken Loach.

I think people should fear the Tories and Ukip as an extreme example of the Tories.
There’s a cruelty aboard. And there’s a fear aboard. And there’s a genuine hunger amongst people. So that’s why I think people should fear the Tories and Ukip.

We advance alternative social and economic policies based on supporting public services and redistributing wealth.

Loach also said the trade unions “must re-think and re-learn” their relationship to work.

They must defend full employment. They must defend real jobs. They must defend the rights of people at work so that they can oppose privatisation, whether it’s the health service or even at the National Gallery.

Loach was joined by scriptwriter Paul Laverty and Felicity Dowling, who’s standing as a Left Unity General Election candidate in Ellesmere Port and Neston.

Left Unity have 10 candidates in the 2015 General Election.

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