There are currently 1.425 million people out of work in this country, and after a huge gaffe on live TV, Philip Hammond, the millionaire Chancellor of the Exchequer, had to deny that he forgot all about those people.
The blunder came during Mr Hammond’s biggest Budget interview so far, before the Budget that could potentially make or break his career. [Scroll To bottom for video]
More so than ever is this the case after Mr Hammond’s Spring Budget proved to be somewhat of a shambles, with the abandonment of tax hikes for the self-employed being a particularly embarrassing chapter for Chancellor.
And now, after locking horns with pro-Brexit campaigners, Mr Hammond is struggling to hold on to his job.
With the blundering gaffe just on the horizon of the interview, Mr Hammond was trying to make a point about robots, and how Britain should embrace the rise of robots and AI manufacturing in this country. He later backtracked however.
But he was branded “completely out of touch” by his Labour rival John McDonnell, and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams added: “Seriously??”
Speaking on BBC’s Andrew M+arr Show, Mr Hammond denied that by putting driverless cars on the road by 2021, professions like taxi driving and truck driving would be obsolete.
“There’s a simple choice here,” he said.
“Either we embrace change and we put ourselves at the forefront of it or we try to hide from change and we allow ourselves to slip behind.”
He added: “I remember 20 years ago we were worrying about what was going to happen to the million shorthand typists in Britain as the personal computer took over.
“Where are all these unemployed people?
Because there are no unemployed people.”
— Dr Lauren Gavaghan (@DancingTheMind) November 19, 2017
“Well, nobody has a shorthand typist these days.
“Where are all these unemployed people? There are no unemployed people.”
A surprised Andrew Marr said that there were, in fact, quite a few unemployed people.
But the Chancellor tried his best to counter and move forward: “We’ve created 3.5million new jobs since 2010. This economy has become a jobs factory, constantly reinventing itself, constantly creating new jobs and careers.”
He then tried to backtrack on the huge blunder from before, claiming that the 1.4 million unemployed people in this country “haven’t been forgotten by this government” but unemployment “is at record lows”.
He added: “It was the last Labour government that abandoned the unemployed, ignored them, dumped them on welfare.”
“There’s 1.4 million unemployed people in this country, that’s 1.4 million too many. But we have record low levels of unemployment,” he said.
Days before a budget that effects 60,000,000 people, chancellor Philip Hammond said: "Where are these unemployed people? There are no unemployed people."
There ARE and YOU should join them @PhilipHammondUK
— Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) November 19, 2017
“The point I was making … is that previous waves of technological change have not resulted in millions of people being long-term unemployed.”
But Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: “The Chancellor is living on another planet.
“The Tories have become even more out of touch and are now so inwards looking that they have no clue of the experiences of ordinary people suffering from 7 years of Tory austerity.”
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Quick reminder for the Chancellor – there are 1.5m unemployed people in the country (2,910 in Tottenham) plus millions more who are underemployed, earning less than the living wage, on zero hours contracts, in insecure work, and on the end of 7 years of falling real wages.”
Mr Hammond also stoked the ire of the people by dismissing the NHS chief’s insistence that there will be an “Armageddon” if they do not receive an extra £6 billion in the Budget.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth spoke to Sky News and said: “This is happening now today in the NHS and if he doesn’t realise that he’s completely out of touch. We are calling on the Chancellor to put aside an extra £6 billion in this Budget coming up.”
Mr Hammond is already fighting to keep his job, after only being kept on by Theresa May because she failed to win the landslide election victory she thought she could, effectively throwing away the majority her government had, much to the indignation of other Tory MPs.
It was all doom and gloom over on the Andrew Marr show, but at least they were reporting on things that matter. One could argue that it wasn’t quite the same on Good Morning Britain, when the ITV breakfast show was accused of going “full Anchorman” as co-host Piers Morgan oversaw a religious debate descend into complete chaos.
During the farcical fall out with Daniel Jones, the founder of the Jediism Church, Piers Morgan was compared to comedy character Ron Burgundy (although I don’t think anyone is saying that Piers Morgan also has a voice that can make a wolverine purr, and suits so fine, he makes Sinatra look like a hobo).
The pair didn’t see eye to eye, shock horror, on whether the organisation was a legitimate faith or something purely created out of fantasy – and as their disagreement worsened, light sabers came out. So clearly, this was a serious discussion into the personal interpretations of faith and organised religion.
Piers rather looked down on Daniel, who was joined in the studio by two of his congregation, and told them that Jediism was nothing more than “running around with swords.”
“Light sabers” said Susannah Reid, who was quick to correct Piers.
But Daniel went on to explain that the organisation, which boasts a membership of 500,000 worldwide, holds weddings and funerals for believers, and he explained that at its core, the belief is about “meditation, mindfulness and trying to help fellow man.”
Sounds okay to me. Piers, naturally, had his best scoffing face on, as he asked “is it a religion?”
As we all know, if interrupting and not letting an interviewee answer a question was a Jedi skill, then Piers Morgan would be more powerful than Yoda, and Daniel was beginning to lose his cool as he tried to get his point across, saying “let me speak and I’ll tell you.”
“Does Jesus Christ exist?” asked Piers, which was a bit of a stupid question, given that almost every historian will tell you that the man Jesus of Nazareth did exist in some form or fashion. I think he meant God.
“Do you believe Jesus Christ exists or not?” asked the Catholic host again, as he demanded an answer.
Daniel said he was on the fence, and Piers replied: “Get off the fence and give me an answer.”
It all started to get very heated, and eventually, the light sabers came out, and the two crossed swords.
So yeah, the NHS is on the brink of collapse and the Chancellor thinks that there are no unemployed people in the country, but the real question is, does Jediism deserve to be called a religion?