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Economy growing: No champagne flowing

Nick Robinson | 15:13 UK time, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Just, barely, by the skin of its teeth, the British economy is growing again. You may have noticed though that no champagne is flowing in Westminster.

Alistair DarlingThe government has chosen a grim-faced chancellor to front the news rather than a triumphant prime minster.

It's not just that growth is a meagre 0.1% and it's not just that growth could come to a halt and reverse by the time the next figures are published, inconveniently for the government on the eve of a May election. They may go backwards thanks to the effect of the rise in VAT, a snowy start to the year and post-Christmas belt-tightening.

It is also that Labour's political strategy now is to emphasise the fragility of recovery in order to warn of the dangers of cutting spending too far and too soon.

It's interesting to note therefore that the Tories are softening their rhetoric, talking of making a start to cutting this year. Perhaps they've been listening to the former Chancellor Ken Clarke who told the Sunday Times this weekend "it's no good trying to win brownie points by offering great cuts that are going to have calamitous consequences."

These are words that Labour is sure to be replaying again and again.

But of course the danger of emphasising the fragility of the recovery is that some voters may note that we are still not securely out of the longest and deepest recession since the war and may conclude that the current custodians of the economy can no longer be trusted to finish the job.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    On those figures for growth (which are subject to adjustment) we would be pushed to buy a bottle of Newcastle Brown never mind Champagne. And we still have the problem that all the things we paid for on the credit card last year have to be paid off next month ...and the month after that... and the month after that ....

  • Comment number 2.

    You are right the Tories are playing a dangerous game potentially alienating public sector workers, users and not forgetting the large number of private sector companies working on public sector contracts. At the same time Labour with its near religious worship of the City hardly fills anyone with confidence that they are the best for recovery. A massive fudge is inevitable all round with perhaps only a run on the pound to focus minds. Low turnout and hung parliament looking likely. Vince for Chancellor?

  • Comment number 3.

    "They may go backwards thanks to the effect of the rise in VAT, a snowy start to the year and post-Christmas belt-tightening."
    Or, dare one say in this BBC Labour party forum, thanks to this government's woeful inability to manage the economy?

  • Comment number 4.

    What is it about politicians and recession. We know none of them are very fond of using the "r" word but why is it that we have to wait for four quarters of negative growth for it to be consider a recession and yet by having one quarter where we have 0.01% grow, the smallest amount possible, we are suddenly out of a recession?

  • Comment number 5.

    If the last quarter of 2009 had not been able to show even miniscule growth as it was the last month that VAT was at 15% and with the car scrappage scheme being withdrawn shortly, together with stamp duty going back on for lower priced houses, then we would really be showing depression figures today.

    26th March is the day when the figures for the first quarter of 2010 will be released. We shall see then how much of an artificial growth figure this almost flat 0.1% is. It don't look good to me. I shall continue to work very hard to build a couple of businesses and get growing again.

  • Comment number 6.

    Has this been ghostwritten?

    I wouldnt normally ask, but it doesnt appear to be slagging off Cameron....

  • Comment number 7.

    watriler wrote:
    "Vince for Chancellor?"

    He'd get my vote !

  • Comment number 8.

    The anaemic growth figure may be bad news for both parties but it's over-simplistic to assume that it strengthens Labour's argument for delaying reductions to spending. It's not spending markets are worried about - it's borrowing. The weaker growth figures suggest it's more likely that Labour's growth figures for 2011 onwards are wildly optimistic. This means borrowing would rise, even if spending stood still. Would markets stomach that prospect? What about the much vaunted plan to halve the deficit in 4 years? It's going to be a balancing act but nonetheless is still likely to mean even more stringent cuts than so far contemplated will be needed from 2011 onwards. This prospect will not favour Labour at all. It's a government and a Party that lacks the stomach for a fight with itself over cuts, Mandelson and Darling notwithstanding. Even if re-elected, this sort of battle would fracture the Labour movement for a generation. Winning in 2010 would be like the Tories winning in 1992 - an election victory too far.

  • Comment number 9.

    Sagamix wrote (previous blog, but relevant to this one):
    "Did you see George Osborne on the TV just now? There he was being all churlish - on the day we come rocketing out of recession"

    If 0.1% rise (after a 5% decline) is a rocket man then I'm EltonJohn66.

    It will be interesting to see whether Labour apologists will maintain a consistent line:

    "The recession is over. More spending now! Vote Labour"
    "The recession is not over. More spending now! Vote Labour"

  • Comment number 10.

    Well it's something anyway. Let's pray that the worst is behind us. If it is, and if we learn the right lessons, we'll be able to look back on this period (2007 to 2010) as being the sea change which was so desperately needed. The point at which we ceased our slavish worship of the market. The point at which we stopped ludicrously overvaluing & overrewarding (at the expense of everything else) the people & companies involved in the capital allocation process. If this is the case - and I very much hope it is - then we can safely say that from now on, Things Can Only Get Better. Big if, though.

  • Comment number 11.

    The central point to make is that Brown has impoverished this country for decades to come with his reckless borrowing - and for what? A 0.1% return to growth! Our children and our grand children will be paying massively for the failures of Brown as Chancellor and self appointed PM.

  • Comment number 12.

    It might have been a lot worse had we digressed. I’d also say – we’ve avoided deflation and have lower unemployment than the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain or Ireland.

    Structurally (high consumption, property bubble and large financial sector) we were very close to Ireland who have gone into a great depression locked into the Euro without the ability to apply fiscal stimulus

    Osborne will probably turn his attention to the deficit now, mark my words.....pardon the pun

  • Comment number 13.

    Newlabour will fall because finally people can see we have a coward for a prime minister and cowards for a cabinet who refused to get rid of him.

    No-one can seriously suggest he did not know this number in advance and jumped on a plane to Northern Ireland. And if they are maybe they could explain why the talks went on into the night to avoid him having to come back and face the music.

    He's a grown man and can't face the mess he has created.

    There won't be a budget. None of them have the spine for it.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is LAUGHABLE - printing money - trillions in debt - huge unemployment - at war - AND the BBC trumpets 0.1 as if England had won ALL World Cups - PATHETIC - just like the fool who got us into this dreadful mess and who is making our as yet unborn childrens children, pay for it. OBLIVION FOR LIEBOUR NEXT ELECTION.

  • Comment number 15.

    Nick

    So after throwing every bit of our ammunition and pulling every lever to get growth before the election in Q4 2009 we have 0.1 %.

    If we took away the South east and London from these figures it would show that the North South split is alive and well and thriving under Labour.

    So we can say that the bankers and the affluent south east of growing but the working class are still suffering, Labour the party of the working man don't make me laugh.

    On the Steph Flanders blog the question is asked which is the greater danger a double dip recession or a Sovereign crisis and a Stirling collapse?

    This is a no brainer the damage of a debt crisis and collapse of Stirling or double dip, they are not even the same league.

    We are now almost certain to go back to recession in the next Q1 2010
    so we have the double dip

    WE JUST DON'T NEED A DEBT & STIRLING CRISIS.

    Gordon Brown "WE ARE BEST PLACED TO WEATHER THE RECESSION"

    What a joke.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's all very deflating:

    180 billion sterling to get 0.1% on the low base, some 6% below peak, set at the end of September 2009. And the 4th quarter benefited from the post summer pick up of business and christmas shopping, which in turn may have been boosted by shoppers who pre-empted the VAT bounce.

    There was 0.2% public sector services growth, helping total services growth to 0.1%, implying zero recovery in private scetor services on the late 2009 summer level.

    The 0.1% recovery may well have been a 0.06% number rounded up.

    Do the maths:
    -GDP now 6% below peak
    -Public sector accounts for 50% of economy
    >> Private sector has shrunk more than 10%!

    The election will be in March to prevent Q1 growth figures, an updated budget and biting of tax hikes. Not to prevent a dubble dip, because it's impossible to double dip if you don't have a proper bounce first.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well Nick you didn't get much change out of Darling this morning. Just why won't he tell the public what cuts and tax rises labour are going to make. Are the finances worse than we imagine, is that the reason?
    Some government when they can't tell us what they intend to do, and with only a few weeks to go before the election. Do they not realise that we need to know so that we can make a judgement on which party we choose to lead us into the future. It's like asking someone to buy something but not telling them the price.
    Why do labour continue to think the electorate is stupid?

  • Comment number 18.

    "12. modest_mark wrote:
    It might have been a lot worse had we digressed. I’d also say – we’ve avoided deflation and have lower unemployment than the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain or Ireland."

    Rather depends on whether people who have a sore back or who are a bit "down in the dumps" count as unemployed in those other countries as here in the UK, they don't, even though we (and when I say "we" it only includes those who are actually working) are paying for all 2.6 million of them to not work.

  • Comment number 19.

    Liam Byrne on the daily politics show called the 0.1% growth "modest". How on earth can 0.1% growth be called modest. Is Byrne on the same planet as the rest of us?

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh great- We are out of recession- Roll on PMQ's. Incapability Brown will be able to lecture the Commons on the his suucessful economic stategy -hopefully he will give us one of his famous lists he uses to avoid answeing any question he is ever asked.
    Being lectured by Gordon Brown on economics is a bit like being givern a driving lesson by Mr Magoo

  • Comment number 21.

    @ Portcullisgate

    Bill Gross has commented that gilts are in a bed of nytroglycerine

    look it up on the globe global web:

    ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2010/01/26/134711/an-eye-catching-quote/

  • Comment number 22.

    At least this story is genuine reporting of the facts at hand. But..
    I have to be honest.
    I'm begining to suspect that the BBC is bias.
    Whether this is simply to whoever is in power, or to the particular government we have at present ( I suspect it's the former ), I'm not sure.
    But one thing is certain, I'm going to find it hard to stomach paying my licence fee for 'a party political broadcast for the Labour party'.

    What's worse, I think the BBC risks being permently associated with the current government, which could potentially be it's undoing.
    I know that my trust in them, over the last year, has declined to the point that I'm starting to check other sources first before believing what they have written/reported.

    Perhaps it's time for a blog/have your say on BBC impartiallity?

  • Comment number 23.

    #4 DavidHankey

    Technically a recession is only 2 quarters of negative growth but it is indeed a curiosity that only one positive quarter is required for it to end (technically)no matter how pathetic the figure as you say.

    However with such anaemic grow as this - even allowing that figures are typically revised up as the final numbers become facts rather than projections (usually no more than 0.1 or 0.2 typically) - it will be a very brave (or stupid) Labour politician who starts crowing about it and claiming the recession is actually over.
    However it may have the positive for them that claiming it has ended would then allow them to claim credit for a double dip recession in addition to the many other financial firsts they have achieved.

  • Comment number 24.

    ronreagan

    Spot on. We're at war, we have 8 million inactive people on benefits, two zombie banks with over a trillion in liabilities, a deficit of 178bn, a public sector pension scheme that is funded by tax payers, 200bn of qwuantitive easing and we still can't manage more than 0.1% growth.

    This is a farce and a costly one at that.

    Read 'The moneymaker' a true story of another Scot whose credit schemes bankrupte the French in the early 1700s..John Law: father an Ediunburgh' goldsmith. It doesn't work. It took them twenty years to egt out the mess he created but the first response was exactly what we have jsut done; print money. It doesn't work.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 25.

    "10. sagamix wrote:
    Well it's something anyway. Let's pray that the worst is behind us. If it is, and if we learn the right lessons, we'll be able to look back on this period (2007 to 2010) as being the sea change which was so desperately needed."

    Provided that the lesson we learn is that Labour are not ever again to be trusted with running the economy then I agree that we could be gathering some crumb of comfort from the shambles that Brown has made of the economy.

    Sadly the worst is I believe yet to come. The bloated public sector needs trimming. Who will have the courage to do that? Pensions and salary issues need addressing.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nick

    when you see Gordo next can you ask him which of the Labour heartlands are out of recession?

    His mates in the Banks are doing alright shame about the Labour voting fodder.

  • Comment number 27.

    "Why do labour continue to think the electorate is stupid?"

    They don't. But they know a good percentage is claiming benefits or working in the public sector. That's their core vote.

  • Comment number 28.

    Shouldn't we be cautiously applauding this (albeit modest) return to growth? Shouldn't we be congratulating (albeit mutedly) the Government for taking measures which seem to have prevented a deeply damaging, downward economic spiral? And above all, shouldn't we be reflecting (in a sombre & sober fashion) on how reckless & risky it would now be to get too hawkish on public spending?

  • Comment number 29.

    RE: 16. Econoce

    "The election will be in March to prevent Q1 growth figures, an updated budget and biting of tax hikes."

    You've put your finger on a rather nasty dilemma facing New Labour apologists. The ones that truly believe the fairy tales about "locking in the recovery" and Brown's stewardship of the economy have to want the election as late as possible. That would give the longest possible period for the electorate to see what a fine job Gordon has done.

    On the other hand, for a New Labour apologist to call for an early election means they think it's all been a trick to fabricate a brief, phony upturn and the election is needed now before the truth becomes obvious.

    So it's either, demand an early election and in so doing openly admit that the economic future is bleak, or, delay as long as possible and risk having everyone see for themselves just how bleak it really is.

    Tough choice.

  • Comment number 30.

    17. At 4:33pm on 26 Jan 2010, telecasterdave wrote:
    ".... It's like asking someone to buy something but not telling them the price."

    Or even not telling them what you are selling.

  • Comment number 31.

    "the current custodians of the economy can no longer be trusted to finish the job."

    I'm a bit surprised by this statement, I thought the trust went a long time ago - round about the time that brown was urging a "light touch" on the FSA.

  • Comment number 32.

    I wonder when it was that Gordon Brown decided that 'creative accounting' was a good thing, not just a way of pulling the wool over peoples eyes....

  • Comment number 33.

    From a financial report I received this morning:

    "Official figures released today indicated that Britain's GDP expanded by a meagre 0.1% in the final three months of 2009, suggesting that the embattled economy only barely managed to exit the recession after six consecutive quarters of contraction.

    The latest data was a real disappointment, trailing the 0.4% rise expected by the majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. In my opinion, this weak result resurrects the prospect of additional quantitative easing, which in turn heightens the possibility of a downgrade in the country's sovereign rating."

    Looks like we may be in for some more QE. And the only reason we would need that is because we are NOT out of a recession! If the IMF comes knocking, as intimated above, then how can we be described as out of a recession? I would suggest that the 0.1% (miniscule) growth is but an anomaly - a minor blip on a downward path. If you look at any live currency trading chart, you will always see that, even when a currency is trending in one direction (or the other), there are always ups and downs, but it doesn't change the trend. I fear that the 0.1% is merely a small reversal in an otherwise downward trend.

  • Comment number 34.

    "25. At 4:47pm on 26 Jan 2010, AndyC555 wrote: Sadly the worst is I believe yet to come. The bloated public sector needs trimming. Who will have the courage to do that? Pensions and salary issues need addressing."

    Why should the public sector employees, and those who rely on them for essential services, pay for the greed of bankers? And how do you know the public sector is 'bloated'? You don't, it's just an easy target, and it's what a lot of other people think, so why bother thinking for yourself?

  • Comment number 35.

    #14 Ronregan

    If the celebrations for the world cup had been on a par with the BBC reporting of the 0.1% rise in GDP over Q4 then those celebrations would have consisted of a cup of tea and a digestive.

  • Comment number 36.

    excellent - we're out of recession.

    I hope I'm not the only one looking forward to this evenings edition of the one show. They must be rushing about like busy little bees in the editting room now putting together one of their 'balanced' pieces.

  • Comment number 37.

    "sagamix wrote:
    Shouldn't we be cautiously applauding this (albeit modest) return to growth? Shouldn't we be congratulating (albeit mutedly) the Government for taking measures which seem to have prevented a deeply damaging, downward economic spiral? And above all, shouldn't we be reflecting (in a sombre & sober fashion) on how reckless & risky it would now be to get too hawkish on public spending?"

    Should we be applauding (very) modest growth which has came 6 months after the other big European economies? Growth which only exists because the government has spent billions trying to pull the economy out of the mire?

    My feelings are "No we shouldn't applaud it". This growth figure is a joke - and is so low that only a slight re-adjustment on the figure could show we never actually exited the recession.

    It is time for me to go all "Mystic Meg" and make a little prediction:

    1. The economy will shrink again when the Q1 figures come out.
    2. Labour will lose the election.
    3. The economy will also shrink in Q2 sending the country back into recession.
    4. Labour will say the Tories have sent us back into recession.

    Also
    5. Idiots will believe them!

    These figures show that the economy is so badly placed that a double dip recession will be very hard to avoid.

  • Comment number 38.

    0.1% growth is not growth - that is Christmas shopping.
    Factor in QE, the VAT decrease and it's rise, seasonal spending and the lack of it in the first quarter and we are still in recession.
    This government can hardly even crack a nut with a sledgehammer let alone any champagne. The worst is a long way from being over with more pain to come across all sectors. The US is still struggling and China is overheating with nobody buying their goods. Future dollar rates vs major global currencies will determine how this pans out globally, but nationally we are bankrupt and going through the motions at the moment until the election with a leader whose head is buried in the sand about the facts facing us

  • Comment number 39.

    I would almost put money down on a bet that we will see a negative growth in Q1 and probably Q2 as well. UNLESS of course the BoE decides to print another £25 - £50 Billion to throw at the banksters who then loan it to the government who then blow it on vote winning token policies!

    Cynical...Moi? NEVER!

  • Comment number 40.

    The recession, we were repeatedly told, was down to mysterious 'global forces beyind our control' and therefore had little to do with the present government. The recovery then must be down to the same mysterious forces and therefore no politician deserves the right to take credit for it...but they will try, just you watch them!
    Having said that I'm glad we are out of recession and, please God, we stay out.

  • Comment number 41.

    Seems a lot of bemoaning a 0.1% growth, but hasn't Germany had a flat growth rate of 0%. I guess you can't please everyone!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Is the economy really growing? Presumably that figure of 0.1% is subject to some statistical uncertainty? Maybe, just maybe, some journalist at the BBC will do what journalists are supposed to do and report the full facts about this figure, and tell us what the 95% confidence interval around that 0.1% is.

    Stephanie Flanders said on her blog that the recovery is not statistically significant, although she hasn't provided the figures to back that up. But if it's true, as seems likely, then when the figure for growth is as close to zero as this, then the only honest interpretation of the statistics is that we don't actually know whether the economy is growing slightly, shrinking slightly, or staying the same.

  • Comment number 43.

    34#

    Because the private sector is already paying for it. Because the public sector has been largely untouched by the recession. Because there has been too much spent on it for too little results. Because your goldplated pensions are unaffordable.

    Thats just for starters.

  • Comment number 44.

    #10 sagamix wrote:
    "if we learn the right lessons, we'll be able to look back on this period (2007 to 2010) as being the sea change which was so desperately needed."

    I agree. But where shall we begin?

    Labour (post 2001) cannot be trusted to run the UK economy?

    Running a structural budget deficit at a time of boom leaves the UK economy worst placed to survive a global recession?

    Taxing private enterprise to fund unreformed public services weakens the economy?

    Taxing pension funds to finance current expenditure encourages fiscal and moral irresponsibility?

    Ditto off-balance sheet accounting scams (PFIs)?

  • Comment number 45.

    10 sagamix

    " .....if we learn the right lessons, we'll be able to look back on this period (2007 to 2010) as being the sea change which was so desperately needed."

    ====================================

    Couldn't agree more ! First lesson to be learnt is the Gordon Brown is not fit to be PM. Though we will have to wait a little while longer for this lesson to be put into practice.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Andy,

    "The bloated public sector"

    Have to pick you up on this. Using the word "bloated" to describe something implies that it's both (a) miles too big, and (b) artificially so. Not sure either applies to the public sector. Our public sector is of a broadly reasonable size for a Western European "mixed economy" country. If you check to see how it stacks up against others, you'll find that to be true. Our problem - here in the UK - is that the private sector isn't delivering the goods. The private sector has to generate sufficient profits (and hence fiscal cashflow) to support the public services we all need. Those self same services can then support the private sector in its generation of said profits and fiscal cashflow. Which in turn support the services. And so it goes on. Round and round it goes, the virtuous circle. We have to find our way back to that - get it spinning again. Slashing the public sector won't do that. It's a mistake - and a failure of the imagination - to think that it will.

  • Comment number 47.

    Can someone tell the financial high-flyers there ain't a safety net this time, seeing as Merve and Alister won't take them on!

  • Comment number 48.

    Is there anyone out there who can explain why Cameron is not doing much better in the polls and there is a strong minority view that a hung Parliament is not unlikely?

    Every logical argument should put the Tories out of sight by now, but they aren't. I think politically Cameron is in the same position that Kinnock was before he lost the election. Common sense said that he should have won, but the public still didn't trust him.

    I'm just interested what explanations people come up with.

    If you want to know my voting inclination - I'll give you a clue - he was a friend of Robert Catesby.

  • Comment number 49.

    30 essential rabbit

    I'll have one of those, just send the invoice to Mr.A.Darling, 11 Downing Street, Another Planet.

  • Comment number 50.

    I had given up reading Nick's blogs some time ago as it seemed to be that he was becoming a bit too Labour biased both in his subject choice and comments. I popped in today and also read the Hatfield blogs and am pleased to see that I was right. I won't be back. Good luck to those of you who stick it out but methinks you are up against a brick wall.

  • Comment number 51.

    " LONDON (Reuters) - Britain only just crept out of an 18-month recession at the end of 2009, suggesting any monetary tightening remains a long way off and raising fears about the prospects for recovery ahead of an election due by June."

    Obviously less easily impressed than the BBBC!

  • Comment number 52.

    #46 sagamix

    One issue is declining productivity in the public sector.

    Another is the raising tax burden for the private sector. Do you support raising employer and employee national insurance contributions in April, as Labour intend to do?

    We need to reduce the 180 billion budget deficit whilst at the same time encouraging growth in the economy. The best way - though difficult - is to encourage the private sector, not to tax it.

    I see UK manufacturing industry is down 14% in the last 18 months (source BBC 6 o'clock news).

    There is also the fairness agenda (yes!). Public sector pay rises and guaranteed pensions versus private sector pay cuts and closure of private sector pension schemes.

    I would call this "bloated", but if it offends you I won't push the point, tempting as it is to do so.

  • Comment number 53.

    #48 boilerbill wrote:
    "Is there anyone out there who can explain why Cameron is not doing much better in the polls and there is a strong minority view that a hung Parliament is not unlikely?"

    From memory Cameron is doing better than Heath and Thatcher at the same stage in 1970 and 1979 (in terms of lead over Labour).

    If the electoral system was as skewed to the Tories as it is to labour talk would be of a 100+ majority.

    With the growth of minority parties it is difficult for any party to get more than 40% of the vote.

  • Comment number 54.


    Throughout the day I've had to suffer BBC headlines which focuses on the 'end' of recession -rather than the anaemic 0.1 percent 'growth'.

    So it's quite refreshing that you've put it in a truer perspective Nick.

    Call that a recovery? Saint Vince doesn't think so nor the public. But apparently Darling does.

    How can anyone in their right mind believe or take comfort in today's shaky and fragile 'recession over' figures for the longest recession on record?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/recession-ends-now-bill.html

  • Comment number 55.

    #48:

    Good question. Here's my take on it, but doubtless there will be others.

    1. Cameron is so obviously Blair 2.0. In 1997, we were all absolutely thrilled to get rid of an incompetent government that had totally lost the plot and replace them with a nice fresh face with good PR. I'm sure many people still remember just how badly betrayed they felt by Blair, and don't want to make the same mistake again.

    2. UKIP. As the Tory party move to the middle ground in attempt to make themselves more electable to the Man on the Clapham Omnibus, they leave many of their core voters behind, who find themselves attracted to UKIP. That's going to take a lot of votes away from Tories, which could mean that Labour end up winning quite a lot of seats that they would not have done if all the naturally Tory-leaning voters voted Tory.

    3. Those same people who were delighted to get rid of an incompetent Tory government back in 1997 remember what a disaster the last Tory government was (OK, admittedly nowhere near as bad as disaster as the lot we have now, but still not an attractive prospect).

    4. The Tories don't really have any policies, other than moaning about how much Labour have messed things up.

    5. And here's the controversial one: maybe the Tories don't actually want to win the election and are deliberately not campaigning effectively. They must know that whichever party wins is going to be left with an impossible task in attempting to sort out a seriously broken economy, which will possibly make that party unelectable for a generation.

    Anyway, just my thoughts.

  • Comment number 56.

    J66 @ 44

    Yes, fair enough. On a couple of your points, anyway - particularly PFI - what a scam that is. But I stand by my original as being the biggest change we need - the thing from which so much else flows. We stop the ridiculous overvaluation of the capital allocation process. The drag on the rest of the private sector, applied by the bloated middlemen we call the banking & financial services industry, far outweighs that of public sector "waste". A lean & mean National Bank delivering credit to where it's needed, at a fair and unvarnished price ... this will boost our wealth creating process like nobody's business.

  • Comment number 57.

    "But of course the danger of emphasising the fragility of the recovery is that some voters may note that we are still not securely out of the longest and deepest recession since the war and may conclude that the current custodians of the economy can no longer be trusted to finish the job."

    ===

    Quite.


    Not much to show for £200 billion of QE, is it?

  • Comment number 58.

    48#

    Could be any number of reasons, I should imagine a lot of prospective voters have got their own reasons.

    There are those with the IQ's of jellyfish, who will not vote at all.
    Theres the growth in the minority parties as the usual duopoly sell thier principles out to chase the middle England vote.
    Theres the Europhobes and little Englanders who will go to UKIP.
    There will be those stuck in a 1980's timewarp.
    And then there will be those for whom Cam just does not do the business. Personally, I should be natural tory material, but I dont find him inspiring enough. I dont see the true leadership qualities the country requires.
    I'd rather him than Brown any day of the week, at least he's fundamentally honest as against Brown who is an overpromoted narcissistic sociopath who will lie his face off to keep power - but given the choice I would rather vote for a party who'se leader was more prepared to articulate and channel the anger, the passion that the nation feels. Its got nothing to do with Cameron being a toff, its got nothing to do with half the front bench being old Eronians. Its a visible lack of passion and conviction. Too scared of being labelled as the old nasty party instead of holding Brown to account.

    Unfortunately, this is what you get, when you get a professional political elite and a disconnect between them and the electorate.

    The problem with Kinnock wasnt him. It was his party's policies, the Militant Tendency, Clause 4, Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament; the wrong policies at the wrong time, plus Major had the Khaki factor after the successful Gulf War 1... As a leader Kinnock was a damn good orator, he was passionate, he was certainly more natural PM material than Major was.

  • Comment number 59.

    57. yellowbelly.
    of cousre we could always take a punt on mr osbourne. theres no way things could get any worse of course. if you look at osbournes cv, he is the perfect man to deal with the economy. just look at his experience.....
    i might post it for all to read!

  • Comment number 60.

    0.1% is nothing to write home about, people are losing jobs and plenty of empty shops in our high street. 0.1% could swing either way, you can bet that with an election round the corner you'll hear plenty of 'hype' and singing praises to the great leader we'll be made to feel that the 0.10% is 10%... leading to a sense of fault security.

    Until I see the empty shops in our high Street being used, the large Woolworth store now with broken windows is used again and folks are not being laid off the recession is far from over.

    With less businesses, folks being sent to University and staying at school longer and import more than we export the recessions for me, is far from over, pure hype for political reasons.

  • Comment number 61.

    37. At 5:17pm on 26 Jan 2010, Mark_WE wrote:

    1. The economy will shrink again when the Q1 figures come out.
    2. Labour will lose the election.
    3. The economy will also shrink in Q2 sending the country back into recession.
    4. Labour will say the Tories have sent us back into recession.

    Also
    5. Idiots will believe them!

    Spot on I think you've got it covered :)

  • Comment number 62.

    34. At 5:12pm on 26 Jan 2010, verymuchso wrote:

    Why should the public sector employees, and those who rely on them for essential services, pay for the greed of bankers? And how do you know the public sector is 'bloated'? You don't, it's just an easy target, and it's what a lot of other people think, so why bother thinking for yourself?

    ===

    Current UK national debt is £800 billion.

    Total cost of bank bailout is £130 billion.

    So, think for yourself and let us know why the public sector shouldn't shoulder it's fair share of the economic pain in reducing the other £670 billion and rising?

  • Comment number 63.

    Gerry M @ 58

    "I would rather vote for a party whose leader was more prepared to articulate and channel the anger, the passion that the nation feels"

    A Strong & Charismatic Leader to "articulate and channel our anger", and to unleash our "National" pride & passion ??

    VERY scary spice.

    ??

  • Comment number 64.

    59#

    Dont be such a plank..... the Great General Gordon's experience prior to taking over as Iron Chancellor was what, exactly? As a history lecturer?

    On that basis, Terry Wogan would make a better chancellor - at least he has more banking qualifications than the pair of Brown or Darling put together.

  • Comment number 65.

    59. At 7:00pm on 26 Jan 2010, lefty10 wrote:
    57. yellowbelly.
    of cousre we could always take a punt on mr osbourne. theres no way things could get any worse of course. if you look at osbournes cv, he is the perfect man to deal with the economy. just look at his experience.....
    i might post it for all to read!

    ===

    Cyber-stalking again!

    When you do post that, please add in the economics qualifications that the present Chancellor and the previous incumbent have.

    I suspect it will be a very short post.

  • Comment number 66.

    Anand #39

    You forgot to include the bonus that Goldman or similar will make out of handling that QE money 'no risk' lot of profit.

  • Comment number 67.

    the worst economic disaster in the uk for decades.
    is this the answer.......?
    Mr Osborne (age 38)
    The life:
    Born May 1971, elder son of Sir Peter Osborne and heir to the Osborne and Little wallpaper fortune. Educated St Paul's School and Magdalen College, Oxford. Married to writer Frances Osborne with two children. Lives in Notting Hill.

    The economic experience?:
    Conservative research department 1994-5. Special adviser at the Ministry of Agriculture (1995-7), then political secretary to the leader of the opposition and secretary to the shadow cabinet. June 2001, elected MP for Tatton. Became shadow Chancellor in 2005.

  • Comment number 68.

    65. cyber-stalking again.
    lmao. i could have put that to you on blogg "middle class war" (asking questions/checking about what time i get in from work)
    stones and glass houses. weird

  • Comment number 69.

    36. At 5:15pm on 26 Jan 2010, sweetAnybody wrote:
    "excellent - we're out of recession.
    I hope I'm not the only one looking forward to this evenings edition of the one show. They must be rushing about like busy little bees in the editting room now putting together one of their 'balanced' pieces."


    SweetAnybody, Are you really Mystic Meg?
    Though I don't watch it, this evening I decided to check if "The One Show" was really this bad. I punched the remote and could hardly believe my ears. The first thing I heard was the female presenter saying,"Now that the recession's over". Didn't hang around for more.

  • Comment number 70.

    #68

    Nothing on Brown & Darling's qualifications then? I thought not.

    As you say: "The worst economic disaster in the uk for decades."

    Architects - Brown and Darling.

  • Comment number 71.

    alistair darling cv.
    Alistair Darling was born in London[1] the son of a civil engineer, Thomas, and his wife, Anna. He is the great-nephew of Sir William Darling who was Conservative MP for Edinburgh South (1945–1957). He was educated in Kirkcaldy, and the private Loretto School, Musselburgh, East Lothian, then attended the University of Aberdeen where he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B). He became the head of Aberdeen University Students Union. Before joining the Labour Party at the age of 23 in 1977, Darling was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, the British section of the Trotskyist Fourth International.[2][3][4] He became a solicitor in 1978, then changed course for the Scots bar and was admitted as an advocate in 1984. He was elected as a councillor to the Lothian Regional Council in 1982 where he supported large rates rises in defiance of Margaret Thatcher's rate-capping laws and even threatened not to set a rate at all.[2] He served on the council until he was elected to Parliament. He was also a board member for the Lothian and Borders Police and became a governor of Napier College in 1985 for two years.

    Member of Parliament
    He entered Parliament at the 1987 General Election in Edinburgh Central defeating the sitting Conservative MP Sir Alexander Fletcher by 2,262 votes, and has remained an MP since.

    After the creation of the Scottish Parliament the number of Scottish seats at Westminster was reduced, his Edinburgh Central seat was abolished. Since the 2005 election he has represented Edinburgh South West. Despite being a senior Cabinet minister himself, Darling was hardly seen outside the area, as he was making the maximum effort to win his seat. In the event, he won it with a majority of 7,242 over the second-placed Conservative candidate, a 16.49% margin on a 65.4% turnout.

    Shadow Cabinet
    As a backbencher he sponsored the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1988.[5] He soon became an Opposition Home Affairs spokesman in 1988 on the frontbench of Neil Kinnock.

    After the 1992 General Election he became a spokesman on Treasury Affairs until being promoted to Tony Blair's Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1996.

    In Government
    Following the 1997 General Election he entered Cabinet as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; he is one of only three people who have been in the Cabinet ever since (the others are Gordon Brown and Jack Straw).

    In 1998 he was made the Secretary of State for Social Security replacing Harriet Harman who had been dismissed. After the 2001 General Election, the department for Social Security was abolished and replaced with the new Department for Work and Pensions, which also took employment away from the education portfolio, Darling headed the new department until 2002 when he was transferred to the Department for Transport, in the wake of his predecessor Stephen Byers resigning.

    Transport Secretary
    Darling was given a brief to "take the department out of the headlines" and was widely considered to have achieved this, although he was also criticised for achieving too little else whilst he held the transport brief. He oversaw the creation of Network Rail, the successor to Railtrack, which had collapsed in controversial circumstances for which his predecessor was largely blamed. He also procured the passage of the legislation - the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 - which abolished the Rail Regulator and replaced it with the Office of Rail Regulation. He was responsible for the Railways Act 2005 which abolished the Strategic Rail Authority, a creation of the Labour government under the Transport Act 2000. Darling was also responsible for the cancellation of several major Light Rail schemes. Although he was not at the Department for Transport at the time of the collapse of Railtrack, Darling vigorously defended what had been done in a speech to the House of Commons on 24 October 2005. This included the making of threats to the independent Rail Regulator that if he intervened to defend the company against the government's attempts to force it into railway administration - a special status for insolvent railway companies - the government would introduce emergency legislation to take the regulator under direct political control. This stance by Darling surprised many observers because during his tenure at the Department for Transport he had made several statements to Parliament and the financial markets assuring them that the government regarded independence in economic regulation of the railways as essential.

    After the Scottish Office was folded into the Department for Constitutional Affairs, he was made Scottish Secretary in combination with his transport portfolio in 2003. In the Cabinet reshuffle of May 2006, he was moved to the position of Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Douglas Alexander replaced him as both Secretary of State for Transport and Secretary of State for Scotland. On 10 November 2006 in a mini-reshuffle, Malcolm Wicks, the Minister for Energy at the Department for Trade and Industry and therefore one of Darling's junior ministers, was appointed Minister for Science. Darling took over day-to-day control of the Energy portfolio.

    Chancellor of the Exchequer
    In June 2007, the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Darling Chancellor of the Exchequer,

  • Comment number 72.

    I am glad to see that the management of the economy is back in vogue on Nick's blog. I think that voters will remember that Gordon Brown abolished boom and bust and was in denial about expenditure cuts until he was taken on one side by Lord Mandelson. Roll on the election but it won't be anything other than painful for all of us afterwards - I can sense 20% VAT coming along.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    #71

    Congratulations, you have learned to cut and paste!

    Nothing about economics qualifications I see.

    You have made my point for me.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 75.

    #55 think option 5 best fits, unless the tories can get a landslide and can see 15years as HMG , as thats what it will take to sort the mess.

    But I see a possible labour minority gov first, where GB does not resign
    and the IMF, run on sterling etc happens, he is oust or forces an election in october 2010 , then the tories get a landslide along with a good mix of the smaller parties and labour implodes for good this time

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    74.
    the point being political and life experience v political armbands....

  • Comment number 78.

    22 Bobhead wrote:
    Perhaps it's time for a blog/have your say on BBC impartiallity?


    >>

    We have that every day.

  • Comment number 79.

    #76 lefty10

    Wrong again.

    My 1059 contained no question:


    1059. At 7:26pm on 20 Jan 2010, you wrote:
    1007. At 6:43pm on 18 Jan 2010, lefty10

    The answer is for you to start working for yourself then.

    ===

    Facts are not your strong point are they?

    As for your childish name-calling, it merely highlights your immaturity and weakens your (non-existent) argument.

  • Comment number 80.

    tony blair was elected within a wave of enthusiasm and positive change. this is not the case for dave chancer. however bad things are, there is no reason or evidence to believe a tory government would have done anything to avoid the recession. labour will get rightly thumped but people will remember the last tory government and being elected in order to just get rid of brown isnt exactly the best vote of confidence in camerons (vague)policies.

  • Comment number 81.

    Left10

    you seem to be trying to swim against the tide of history here.

    Labour has destroyed the British economy every time its been in power.

    With you being so obsessed with academic background a little view of history will tell you everything you need to know about Labour.

    Complete economic disaster and Brown gets the biggest prize because he has caused the most damage of all of the Labour disasters.

    All of the best laid spin cant erase history.

    The Bankers and the South East are out of recession the Labour heartlands are still suffering, well done Brown.

  • Comment number 82.

    jh66 @ 53

    Fair points, but you somehow failed to spot the elephant in the room: nobody likes Cameron much.

    It isn't the toff image, although that doesn't help. It isn't the fact that he looks like Data from Star Trek, or that his mouth is too small, or that he's promoted his fag from school to be his second in command.

    No, I think it's more fundamental than that. Voters can't see the conviction. Blair had it. Too much probably. Thatcher had it. Ditto. Brown has a strange and slightly unpleasant variety of it. But Cameron comes across like an advertising man making a pitch on behalf of his client, the Conservative Party.

    The Conservatives' lead in the polls is down to dislike for Brown, not an appetite for Cameron.

  • Comment number 83.

    79.
    replying to the assumtion that i wasnt working. word games belly. and how can you weaken a non existent arguement?

  • Comment number 84.

    77. At 8:02pm on 26 Jan 2010, lefty10 wrote:
    74.
    the point being political and life experience v political armbands....

    ===

    So weak! (c) Ed Balls.

    No economics qualifications then?

    Whatever Osborne's shortcomings may be, at least he didn't preside over "The worst economic disaster in the uk for decades."

  • Comment number 85.

    63#

    Never said anything about national pride and passion Saga. At the moment, Brown is disconnected from the public and understands 4/5th's of diddly squat about how his great plan to become the biggest kid in the playground has impacted on the lives of all of us. And, I think Cameron gives him an easy ride.

    If you take yourself back 15 years to when Blair was leader of New Labour when in opposition, he gave Major a torrid time, he didnt let up and he articulated what the country felt at the time. That connection between him and the public led in no small part to the electoral success in 1997 because the public thought that after years of tory sleaze, here is someone who understands how we feel, can articulate it and is prepared to do something about it.

    THATS the kind of passion I'm looking for. But as much as he tries to be Blair 2.0, he doesnt have the depth of conviction. Cameron has been gifted more Brown own goals in the last three years than any other leader of the opposition since the days of Neville Chamberlain. And yet... Brown should by now, be left whimpering on the floor of the HoC every wednesday lunchtime sucking his thumb praying for it all to finish. But he isnt. As a result, he's convinced he's the saviour of the world instead of an overpromoted bully.

    The calibre of leader that the nation needs now needs to not only be inspiring, not just to his/her own party, but to the nation and I dont think Cameron has got it.

    You can make all the Hitler analogies you like mate, but I'll tell you one thing for a fact. If such a leader were to emerge, you'd better pray that he's a tory rather than BNP. You might snort with derision, as you usually do, and try and sweep it all under the carpet and bash your gums about racism, but you'll see. If they find themselves a charismatic leader to replace Griffin, the old duopoly of Lab/Con buggins turn will be for nothing.

    This simpleton, celeb obsessed electorate would vote in enough of them for them to be a significant political force. The Labour party would be reduced to a rump in the tribal heartlands of parts of Yorkshire, Newcastle, Liverpool, North London and Glasgow. The rest of their core vote would collapse. As it stands at the moment, its melting. It could end up haemorraging.

    And you think life under the tories would be a living hell... You aint seen nothing yet.

  • Comment number 86.

    83. At 8:20pm on 26 Jan 2010, lefty10

    Your false assertion, not my words.

    I assumed you were a wage slave, working for an evil Tory capitalist.

    "word games belly. and how can you weaken a non existent arguement?"

    ===

    By repeating it, like you did at #71.

    Neither Darling nor Brown has any economics qualifications. So they were novices when they started, just like Osborne would be IF the Tories form the next government.

  • Comment number 87.

    Sagamix, how does this Labour junket sit with your views on poverty, copying Tories on their cash raising exploits.

    From Betsan's Blog
    "David Pickering has pleasure in inviting you to a Dinner at the Park House Club, Park Place, Cardiff on Thursday 4th February, 7 for 7.30pm, in the Company of the Rt Hon Peter Hain, MP, Secretary of State for Wales, and Carwyn Jones, AM, First Minister for Wales

    Cost £1,000 per person"

    A awful lot of dinners for children still in severe poverty, as described by Save the Children, could be had for £1,000.

    Another reason to consider state funding for elections, stop this type of junket by any party, keep money from such as Ashcroft, Ecclestone etc out of politics.

    For the rest of the story and its significance go to
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/betsanpowys/

  • Comment number 88.

    86.
    so if you put your cross next to conservatives at the election... what are there policies that are going through your mind?..

  • Comment number 89.

    88. At 8:35pm on 26 Jan 2010, lefty10 wrote:
    86.
    so if you put your cross next to conservatives at the election... what are there policies that are going through your mind?..

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Only one thing will be going through my mind that Brown will get his just deserts the next day.

    I just want to see his face as he is ejected from his dream house 10 Downing St

  • Comment number 90.

    Various

    The economic figures are disappointing until you consider the alternative.From 1929-32 in Germany,production almost halved,in the United states it fell by a quarter.Governments did nothing.

    We are in the first part of a global recession.Only in China has the economy recovered to its 2007 figure.Europe and the United States still have levels of output and employment below their previous peak.

    The growth trend in all the major economies except China has declined in every decade since the 1960s.The present decline is the culmination of the declining profitability of capital and growing inequality in consumption,-the majority can no longer afford to buy the goods engendered by increasing productivity

    The flight into financial services may be seen as the last fling of orphaned capital looking for a profitable home.

    As the crisis develops we will see increased social and political polarization, already apparent in the UK and USA.Sarah Palins,Tea Parties,Thatcherism MK 2.Elites will struggle,governments fall.

    The crisis of the thirties was deep and structural.It was only resolved with the war economy of WW2, and the transformation of economic and social policy across the world following it.

    A transformation will follow the present crisis,we will not schmooze our way out of it.It will get bloody.



  • Comment number 91.

    #82 Pdavies65 wrote:
    "The Conservatives' lead in the polls is down to dislike for Brown, not an appetite for Cameron".

    I more or less agree with this, though I also agree that "the Conservatives' lead in the polls is down to dislike for Labour, not an appetite for the Conservatives" (i.e. removing the personality piece).

    I don't remember much enthusiasm for Heath or Thatcher (or the Conservative Party at the time) and indeed I suspect that Cameron is personally more liked than them (and Wilson/Callaghan was more popular than Brown).

    Many journalists much younger than I (and like policeman they get younger every year) contrast Cameron and the Tories with Blair and Labour in 1997. There was real enthusiasm for Blair in 1997, but I think that was unusual and should not be the only point of reference.

    I suspect most of the electorate is in a rather irritable mood (MPs expenses, tax rises, spending cuts, etc.)and will not vote for anyone with great enthusiasm.

    Finally, I'm surprised that the Lib Dems have not captured more of the Labour vote. But perhaps there will be anti-Labour tactical voting at the next election (I certainly hope so).

  • Comment number 92.

    #88 lefty10

    *Sighs*. How many times do you need telling? I am not a Tory, and wont be voting Tory on election day.

    I also wont be voting Labour.

    Got it yet?

    If you want to know what the conservatives' policies are, follow the link I gave previously. Oh no, I remember, we tried that, and here was your juvenile response:

    "I tried to follow your link to the conservative website but it locked me out. a message came up to say i didnt earn enough and said i was lazy and i could only be included in their club once i got a better job and provided them with 10 cases of champagne.. oh well"

  • Comment number 93.

    90. At 8:50pm on 26 Jan 2010, bryhers wrote:

    A transformation will follow the present crisis,we will not schmooze our way out of it.It will get bloody.

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    It will get bloody Bryers but who got us into this fine mess?

    The worst possible outcome is for us to be stuck will Laural and Hardy floundering around making things worse.

    We need a fresh start and one thing is for certain there is not one economic problem for which the answer is, Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 94.

    92. fair enough about your voting. and great news your not a dave follower.


    "I tried to follow your link to the conservative website but it locked me out. a message came up to say i didnt earn enough and said i was lazy and i could only be included in their club once i got a better job and provided them with 10 cases of champagne.. oh well"
    the point being that general policies on websites are not the same as immediate policies to tackle current changing events. its quite clever to post back a comment after a ding dong from another blog link from a different day and mood. i will try that with you to cement the point

  • Comment number 95.

    Re 34. "Why should the public sector employees, and those who rely on them for essential services, pay for the greed of bankers?"

    Sadly we all have to pay for the greed of bankers, because the alternative of allowing the financial system to meltdown would be worse.

    There is significant scope to improve administrative and process efficiency in the public sector - see "can Gerry Robinson save the NHS" for some examples. This may mean some uncomfortable change but it is not true that all savings need result in cuts to front line services.

    Having worked in both the private and public sectors, I also agree with 52 - pay and pensions in the public sector are no longer fair compared with remuneration for similar private sector jobs, particularly if you take work-life balance into account.

  • Comment number 96.

    The banks are doing well. Seems to be the only sign of recovery....isn't that interesting. Everyone realizes that the boom was an economic illusion created by the banks and governments. Although the crash was certain no actions were taken to prevent it. The banks created the crisis yet have no solutions....the taxpayers bailout the banks and will get nothing in return. The government cannot fix the problem as the problem is with the banks and the banks don't want any change. Everyone is waiting around for something positive to happen.....basically we are back to praying to the gods for rain. The arrogance of both banking and government is simply unjustified as both remain ignorant.

  • Comment number 97.

    34."Why should the public sector employees, and those who rely on them for essential services, pay for the greed of bankers?"

    Because some civil Servants just don't get it.
    From Walesonline.co.uk

    "CIVIL servants could be in line for “disruption allowances” of up to £2,500 when they transfer to a new office – even if it is actually closer to their homes.
    Up to 650 staff will be working in the new Welsh Assembly Government building at Llandudno Junction when it opens in the summer.
    Existing Assembly Government employees are entitled to a “disturbance grant” if they are moving to the new premises,
    A source told the Western Mail: “All civil servants can claim this money, even if they live nearer the new office. For example, staff who work in St Asaph, but live in Colwyn Bay, Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno, Conwy or even Llandudno Junction itself, will be paid a £2,500 lump sum because they will no longer have to travel to St Asaph. It’s crazy.
    “The other crazy thing is that the union has negotiated that it is 20 miles from St Asaph to Llandudno Junction. Why would they do this when it’s only 16 miles? The reason is that if the distance is only 16 miles, the civil servants will only get £1,500, but as they’ve agreed a figure of 20 miles it goes up to £2,500.”
    The source added: “They’ve also agreed that Colwyn Bay is eight miles away from Llandudno Junction, so the staff there can claim extra allowances – it’s four miles at the most.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2010/01/23/assembly-payout-for-staff-relocating-to-work-nearer-home-91466-25665551/?sms_ss=twitter

  • Comment number 98.

    belly, you are the past master at juvenille responses

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    Any recovery however weak is to be welcomed, although I have my doubts about whether it can be sustained when the artificial stimulus is withdrawn.

    There is going to be a very difficult balancing act between maintaining growth whilst cutting back the deficit, we should be prepared to see the growth figures rise and fall without over reacting to them.

 

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