Unemployment increased by 281,000 to hit 2.38 million in the three months to May and is the largest rise since records began in 1971. It seems highly likely that the total number of unemployed will get close to 3 million within the next 12 months with the new Conservative Government in 2010 will have to deal with the issue of getting people back in to work.
The death of Michael Jackson knocked the situation in Iran off the main slot in the news media. At the time, the police were restoring their control after the mass demonstrations and once control was regained, we started hearing noises from the Clergy and others that the demonstrations were treasonous plots to overthrow the Government and those involved should be tried for treason. It sounded very familiar and with the foreign media being monitored and restricted in their movements we expected a firm crackdown by pro government militia and the Police.
However it is being reported that that the Clerics in the city of Qom who are regarded as the most influential of all Clerics in Iran have declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election to be illegitimate and have condemned the crackdown against those protesting. This is highly significant and is akin to a direct challenge to the authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and will no doubt be a huge fillip to those who are claiming the election was rigged. Whether the Clerics in Qom are able to do anything more than make a statement is debatable. I doubt if their comments will lead to a recount of the votes or a new election but their statement is significant and may ensure that the expected crackdown against those demonstrating isn’t brutal and that any future elections will be fairer and more closely monitored. It’s a small step but nevertheless very significant.