Now that the Torydems have access to New Labour’s real books, the chances are that Nick Clegg will become increasingly happy about his decision to choose David Cameron rather than David Miliband. Statistically, the nearest thing we had to a winner in the Election was the Conservative Party; and if Labour will put tribal idiots like Ed Balls on the negotiating team, then they have only themselves to blame.
Some of what Clegg will be getting up to speed on is available to lucky you and me via the ONS. It doesn’t make for gentle reading. Seasonal variations are important in the first quarter, but as of today we have a chance to look at the whole period. In £millions, the public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR) looks like this:
Jan +5548 -311
Feb -8800 -9705
March -20,060 -23,498
You don’t have to be a maths boffin to spot the rapidly worsening trend. Unemployment – even full-time employment – is up more than 50,000. And while production output has improved noticeably, this was from a pathetically small base.
Happily, one major thing this new coalition delivers is a more equitable spread of cuts on the one hand, and tax increases on the other. What’s more, the banishment of New Labour means that hitherto silenced Mervyn King is able to be more frank – rather than channeling his views through American lunch companions.
Briefed early on the Tory/LibDem cuts strategy (a fine piece of detail management by the Tories this) he declared himself “hugely supportive”. I hear he added off the record – as the spurned wife said of the leaving husband – “It’ll be good to get back to normal sex again”.