Peter Hoskin

Darling’s dodgy forecasts

Darling's dodgy forecasts
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Lightning does strike twice.  Following the dodgy forecasts in last year's PBR, Alistair Darling has repeated the trick - giving growth predictions in the Budget that are optimistic to the point of madness.  Ok, you can quibble over whether the economy will start growing by the "end of this year", but 1.25 percent growth in 2010 and 3.5 percent growth from 2011 onwards is dubious in the extreme.  As Jeff Randall said on Sky just now, "no-one in the City believes that."

The difference this time round is that the political fallout is further in the future.  When Darling made his PBR forecasts, he had to start backtracking - embarrassingly - almost immediately.  With forecasts for 2011 and beyond, the backtracking can wait.  All Brown & Co. are concerned with is making it look like they'll not only get us through the recession, but will lead the country into a Brave New World after that.  If that helps them hang onto power, then mission accomplished.  But if it doesn't, then economic growth in 2011 becomes the Tories' problem.