Drill into the ‘London boost’ numbers, and you will discover a myth

It’s become almost impossible now to find a headline anywhere in the Daily Barclaygraph that isn’t about how Boris Johnson must surely be the answer to all problems everywhere. Today’s business lead screams ‘UK unemployment falls amid Olympics boost’, one of those odd uses of false correlation to which biased newspapers are prone.

I feel a deconstruction coming on. With a 42,000 drop in unemployment, London accounted for just under a quarter of the national reduction at 201,000. However, London as a City has a gdp of $600bn, almost exactly 25% of of the UK’s $2.4 trillion gdp. So there has been no London ‘boost’: the capital put on real jobs in line with the rest of the country.

London is, by the by, far and away the most visited city in the world. But visitor numbers – as we saw yesterday (despite Jeremy *unt’s garbled dissembling) – fell. So too did business turnover overall. So in that sense – given tourists and their consumption are counted as exports – the Games were a financial disaster. The man most responsible for the stay-away in London was, without doubt, Boris Johnson.

I have no doubt that the Olympics created new jobs in London – but the figures suggest the vast majority were short term: the number of temporary/part-time workers reached record highs in he capital. So, not so much a boost then as a brief burst of speed just before the rickety motor-bike’s tank fell empty.

And the UK economy has indeed tanked: there was a boost in London based temporary work – an amazing 42 out of 46,000 of the total were in the capital – but the UK’s economy is not employing our youth, whose unemployment stayed exactly where it was – above one million.

We will continue to be fed bollocks about boosts – ‘Booster Boris Bangs on Number Ten Door’ – until Borisito Johnsonini is installed as Il Duce or something  similar. But for those of us in the real world, the Games were a net oncost to Great Britain, a blow to London’s economy, and a fortnight of athletic distraction from the truth: Britain’s service industries represent 73% of the economy. We are more dependent on them than Russia is on energy…and people need energy far more than they need services.

A lopsided economy overall, however, is the least of our problems compared to the fact that most of those services are financial. The world of finance in 2012 is like a tyre with a slow puncture, with somebody just about to pull out the nail. Greece, Spain, Italy, Berlin – take your pick. We are powerless to affect any of that, thanks to our ridiculous, powerless membership of, and dependence upon, the European Union.

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