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Reactions to the latest unemployment figures and inflation forecasts lead our teatime newslinks

Latest unemployment figures released

  • "UK unemployment rose by 48,000 to 2.67 million in the three months to December, official figures have shown, the smallest rise in almost a year. Women made up two-thirds of that increase and there was a new record in the number of people working part-time who want full-time jobs. The unemployment rate edged up to 8.4%, the Office for National Statistics said, the highest for 16 years. There was also a new record for the number of jobless young people." - BBC
  • WATCH: Lord Freud: "The number of people long-term sick coming back into the workforce is terribly encouraging"


  • "Part of the reason that the rise in employment has failed to reduce unemployment is that those people benefiting are those who used to be outside the labour market: in particular, old people and immigrants. The number of over-65s in work has risen by 55,000 since the election — accounting for almost half of the overall increase in employment." - Jonathan Jones
  • Balls Ed PortraitEd Balls: "The Government spokespeople have sounded very complacent today. The fact is we’ve seen a big rise in women’s unemployment, we’ve seen a shift from full-time to part-time work, public job cuts outweigh the private jobs created by 12 to one, and a big rise in long-term unemployment for young people, and if we don’t act, we will pay a long term price as a society" - PolHome (£)
  • Sam Gyimah MP: "I am aware of the reality and that is why we’re taking a lot of measures. For example, let’s start on cost of living – the reason why we’ve frozen council tax, the reason why we put so much emphasis on keeping interest rates low is because we know there are a lot of people who are having a tough time and one of their biggest costs is obviously their mortgage." - PolHome (£)
  • "For the first time since the Great Recession began in the second quarter of 2008, the UK has a higher unemployment rate than the United States." - Will Straw

Sir Mervyn King says the economy will "zigzag" in 2012

King Mervyn

  • "The UK economy will "zigzag" this year, dipping in and out of growth, but avoid going back into recession, Bank of England chief Sir Mervyn King has said. The Bank's quarterly inflation report predicts the economy will grow by 1.2% and forecasts inflation will continue to fall in the coming months. However, it now predicts inflation will decline to 1.8% by 2014, not as low as the previous estimate of 1.3%." - BBC
  • Sir Mervyn King: "Substantial headwinds are hampering our recovery and re-balancing. Further falls in inflation are in prospect as the effect of external factors waive, and a weak near-term output adds to the margin of slack in the economy." - PolHome (£)
  • Details of the inflation report - Bank of England
  • Post-Moody's, King backs Osborne - Peter Hoskin

Senior Lib Dems warn against war in Iran

Clegg on Marr with poppy"Few noticed at the time, but the Lib Dems were the only one of the three main parties to explicitly oppose war with Iran in their 2010 manifesto. "[W]e oppose military action against Iran and believe those calling for such action undermine the growing reform movement in Iran," read a passage on page 68. Yet, in apparent breach of this pledge, Clegg told the House Magazine earlier this month that "you don't in a situation like this take any options off the table". - The New Statesman quotes senior Lib Dems warning against war with Iran, and disagreeing with their leader.

In brief:

  • WATCH: Martin Callanan MEP: A default and devaluation "is the only way to salvage something from the Greek economy"
  • Minimum pricing, maximum controversy - Peter Hoskin
  • Hans Blix: How do we stop Iran getting the bomb? - New Statesman
  • Johnson Boris On TubeBoris' election leaflets fail to mention that he's a Conservative - LabourList
  • 70% say Lib Dems on right course, highest figure since July 2010 - Lib Dem Voice
  • German economic policies are destroying Europe. It is time somebody told them - Daniel Knowles
  • "MPs from the Commons defence committee are set to visit the Falklands at a time of rising tensions with Argentina over the islands' future. The trip was agreed in late 2011, but Labour member Thomas Docherty said it was "not a ramping-up thing". He said it was "an appropriate place" for the committee to visit given the presence of British troops there. The last visit was in 1999." - BBC