At some time during today, you’re going to see media reports based on the latest ONS data. They will talk of gdp growth and an improved balance of payments, and then – depending on the media’s agenda – eother sound muted or deliriously happy. Neither will be right.
The latest figures show the deficit is under better control (it could hardly have been worse than it was prior to the Election) and that while still massive (£7.3 billion) at least it isn’t growing. That is encouraging news: without question, it would not have happened under Gordon.
But two things should be noted. First, the narrowing gap does not mean we did more trade. It’s merely a reflection of a quirky income increase based on stuff already in the pipeline. And second, the real trade gap – ie, the real-world exporting of goods – got another 5% BIGGER to £23.2 billion.
The trade in goods is where I always tend to go for a true picture, because like the ‘economically inactive’ lot in the unemployment figures, it represents actuality rather than fiddling. Thus the truth remains the same as ever: the real economy is uncompetitive globally. During their 10 or more years of sunshine, Labour did nothing about this. But before them, the villain of this piece remains the Mad Handbag, who never gave any thought to what might replace the Unionised industries she hated so much.