Owens Recent Newspaper Column

Week after week we see encouraging news about our economic fortunes. As our recovery starts to gather pace, much of Europe, far from following suit, is marking time or falling backwards, a truly frightening prospect.


Last week I was in Northern France for the World Equestrian Games where the newspapers told a very different story to those at home.


Unemployment in France is now up to 3.4 million and for the second consecutive quarter growth has been at zero.  The deficit, at 4.3% of gross domestic product shows no sign of being brought below the EU limit of 3%.


These figures are a stark contrast to local employment figures at home. Last week figures showed that in the West Midlands there are now 16,000 more young people in education, work or training since the election. That is a fall of 13.2% in the last four years. On the other side of the channel however youth unemployment is a staggering 22.5%.


François Hollande’s disastrous increase in France’s upper tax rate has crippled foreign investment, which has halved since he came into office.


Ed Miliband should wake up to the damage his ally is doing to France and he should also see the value of private enterprise. This was graphically brought home to me when on Sunday my car had a puncture; it proved impossible to find anyone to sell me a tyre in France on a Sunday. I was relieved to reach a tyre centre in Dover with hardworking Brits happy to fit a new one at 8.30 am on a Monday morning. 


Neither Ed Miliband nor François Hollande have held a serious job outside politics. Their flawed socialist policies of high spending and high taxation don’t work. The contrast to the UK, where private enterprise has created 1.8 million jobs since 2010, is dramatic.