Long-term unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 91 per cent since 1997, but there are still too many people out of work, and we are reforming the welfare state and investing in the jobs of the future.
The number of long-term unemployed people in my constituency has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s, and the unemployment rate is half what it was during the 1992 recession. Does my right hon. Friend agree that public investment is essential to sustaining private sector jobs? Will he ensure that the Government reject the flawed economic analysis which calls for an immediate slash and burn of the public investment that is crucial to maintaining many of the families in my constituency who work in the private sector?
I hope that my right hon. Friend, who has again argued passionately on behalf of Stirling and the surrounding area, will be reassured by the fact that I agree with what she says, but I know that she will be even more reassured by the fact that the International Monetary Fund agrees with her. During this unprecedentedly severe global recession, it has been necessary for the Government to intervene, such as by supporting the banks, and in particular the Scottish banks, and by supporting people who would otherwise be out of work to stay in work. However, as my right hon. Friend says very clearly, we know that we still have much more work to do to get Scotland through this recession, and we should have no truck with either Conservative plans for immediate cuts or the cloud cuckoo land economics of the Scottish National party.