Revitalised Birmingham Is Booming - Thanks to Labour; ANALYSIS Birmingham Hall Green Labour MP Steve McCabe Responds to Tory Claims That Their Policy Proposals Will Bring Economic Prosperity to Birmingham and the West Midlands

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Byline: Steve McCabe

There was a sense of deja vu about shadow Chancellor George Osborne's recent article (Birmingham Post, August 20). During most of the 80s and 90s senior Tories regularly attacked the city whilst Labour leaders like Sir Richard Knowles got on with the job of transforming Birmingham through pedestrianisation and the building of the ICC and the NIA despite the lack of support from the Tory Government.

Reading his article makes me wonder how much George Osborne really knows about Birmingham and whether he is really equipped to ever take on the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer. There are not too many serious economists who would support his glib attempts to compare the economies of Birmingham and London. Apart from the significantly higher cost of living, London is one of the world's largest financial markets and has a wealth creating role that extends throughout the UK.

He claims to care about unemployment, but offers no solutions, and the Redwood report he cites is little more than a thinly disguised prescription for tax and public service cuts.

When the Tories last employed this economic formula they plunged our country into three successive recessions. In contrast we have established Advantage West Midlands to support and reinforce economic performance. Its work in establishing the Task Force following the Longbridge collapse proved vital. Contrast that with the way the people in this region were left to fend for themselves when the Thatcher government closed down Bilston Steelworks.

The truth is that unemployment in this region is 27 per cent lower than it was 10 years ago, despite all the economic adjustments forced by globalisation, and long term unemployment has actually fallen by 58 per cent over the same period. Nearly half a million families in this region benefit from tax credits designed to make work pay and about 150,000 low paid workers are better off as a result of the minimum wage - a measure which the Tory Party did everything in its power to prevent.

Perhaps Mr Osborne has not been properly briefed on developments within Birmingham and the West Midlands but he may care to look at large capital projects like The Fort in Erdington (derelict for 25 years) or to smaller but innovative initiatives like InvestBX which is the first virtual trading platform of its kind and designed to help small and medium size enterprises raise capital. …