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Sun 18th April
Mr McDonnell, SDLP enterprise spokesperson, said: “Every one of our canvassers is reporting that jobs and the economy are the big concerns on the doorsteps, but that is not being reflected in the media debate and unfortunately is it not what the media are asking me or other candidates about. The SDLP has tabled strong proposals for boosting our economy but the other parties are not debating them or any other economic proposals. In fact they are ignoring the whole area of the economy. It seems sectarian voting pacts make easier headlines.
“No matter what the outcome of this election there are massive cuts coming down the line starting with the public sector. Obsessions with tribal head-counting will not help much if the Tories take the axe to front-line services with or without the help of local allies. Our economy is highly dependent on the public sector so we are particularly vulnerable – we calculate that up to 2000 jobs would go under Tory savings plans and many would be in South Belfast.
“We need representation at Westminster which understands the threat to jobs and knows how to fight it. And we need credible strategies for protecting the jobs we have and creating new ones, not in two or three years when the international economy picks up, but right now. There is a strong consensus among local economists about what needs to be done to kickstart the local economy. All we are lacking is a matching political consensus to go and do it.
“This week in our election manifesto the SDLP will unveil further proposals to create large numbers of new jobs. We are happy to have our plans scrutinised critically by other parties and by the media. It will be an opportunity to ask the very serious question why what is clearly the biggest issue on the doorsteps is such a small issue on the airwaves.”
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