Today’s borrowing figures are, on the surface, not good for the Tories. The surplus on the public finances in January 2014 was lower than for the same month in 2013, at £4.7 billion compared to last year’s £6.0 billion figure (although it’s worth pointing out that the difference could get even smaller with subsequent revisions).
That disappointing figure means that over the year, Osborne has borrowed just £4 billion than at the same point last year:-
These figures give Labour the opportunity to remind voters that George Osborne has failed to meet his own targets. But there is an easy way to spin this, which is that there is still so much that needs doing before the economy is ‘fixed’ that voters need to back the party they trust to do it, rather than sauntering off with Labour. To a certain extent, the Tories need some figures that remind voters that not everything is going well just to reinforce the case against Labour, which is still failing to cut through on the economy in the polls. The Treasury has said today that ‘as today’s figures show, the job is not done and the biggest risk to the recovery would be abandoning the plan that’s boosting economic security for Britain’s hardworking people’.