With so much detail now appearing about massive cuts in the Government's spending plans I'm rather wondering if Labour might go for an early General Election after the forthcoming Party conference. You will remember that Gordon Brown had that opportunity once before, when he would most likely have won and then he dithered it away.
Schools Minister, Ed Balls, reveals in The Sunday Times , his ideas for £2billion worth of potential cost savings' in schools and 'elsewhere'. We also have the argument over 'leaked' Treasury documents that reportedly show secret plans to increase income tax by £14.8 billion, 3p in the pound, if Labour survives the coming vote of confidence by the British people.
On a national basis and regardless of the background conference 'wittering' about their own plans for the economy from the LibDem conference in Bournemouth, 2010 is shaping-up to be the start of a broadly unpleasant experience for millions of people, facing the ever present spectre of unemployment or the very real threat of increased taxation.
Locally, the politicial opposition, are in most cases busily distancing themselves from the Labour brand, or busily knitting their own political spinach. Still swimming in denial, they have clearly failed to grasp the harsher implications of the so-called 'Conservative myth' of a recession so vigorously dismissed by their previous Leader earlier in the year.
Reading my notes from the most recent report from the councils benefits section, I see that we had 163 new claims in just two days. At the same time, I see average processing times have increased slightly, largely, I'm told, because the people who are now seeking unemployment benefits have never claimed before and have no idea of their entitlements or how to find their away around the system. These are Tony Blair's new middle classes, hard-working people who may have never before experienced unemployment in their working lives.
As the trend in unemployment appears to be accelerating in the wrong direction, I share the concern of the Citizens Advice Bureau among others. Thanet is already burdened by too high a national position in the statistics of deprivation and as the fallout from the banking failure continues to spread and public money dwindles, Thanet and other councils like it, start to resemble a pressure cooker, over-filled with urgent and often competing priorities.