The good thing about economic forecasting is that it’s only right when it’s good news for your party. Today the IMF has upgraded its growth forecast for the UK in 2014 from 1.9% to 2.4%, which means that from a Coalition perspective the organisation – having had a rather rocky relationship with the Treasury over the past year or so – is entirely right and filled with jolly good fellows. This is the biggest upgrade for any developed nation. The IMF also said that growth in 2015 will be 2.2%.
George Osborne calculated when he delivered last year’s Budget that he just needed to buy some time until the summer, when the recovery could begin. Now he and David Cameron are making the most of talking about their ‘long-term economic plan’ (Cameron even has a clunky hashtag) to contrast it with the associations that voters still make between Labour and economic chaos.
But as the good news keeps coming for the Tories, naturally it dries up for the Labour party, who had been drawing deep from the pool of poor figures and disparaging predictions in 2012 and early 2013. Ed Balls has released his stock response:
‘After three damaging years of flatlining, any growth is both welcome and long overdue. But this is the slowest recovery for 100 years and working people are facing a cost-of-living crisis with real wages now down £1600 a year under David Cameron.
‘With business investment still weak and the IMF forecasting that UK growth will slow down again next year, it’s clear that this is not yet a recovery that is built to last. Simply to catch up all the lost ground since 2010 we need 1.5 per cent growth each quarter between now and the election.
‘Instead of more complacency from George Osborne we need Labour’s plan to secure a stronger recovery and earn our way to higher living standards for the many, not just a few at the top. That means reforms to our banks and energy market, expanding free childcare to make work pay, a compulsory jobs guarantee and a plan to build 200,000 new homes a year.’