Peter Hoskin

General Well-Being is back

General Well-Being is back
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Spectators might smile wryly at the news that the government is to devise a method for tracking the well-being of the nation. This idea of General Well-Being (GWB) was common currency in the early days of the Cameron project, when the Tory leader was going all out to "detoxify the brand". But it soon hit a downturn-sized snag. Any talk of happiness might have sounded a little complacent and New Age-y in the face of job losses and bank bailouts. And so the Tories backed away from GWB, and it was relegated to little more than branding for the coffee stalls at Tory conference. It was quite a surprise to see it mentioned in the party's manifesto in April, although they did keep it on the hush, hush at the time.

Yet now it's back at full volume. And the question is – why? To my mind, there are two likely answers. First, for some of the reasons noted here, it's not actually a terrible idea (although it may be a superfluous one). And, second, it is something that will appeal to the yellow half of the coalition, and lighten some of the gloom surrounding the Spending Review. Now that we've returned to growth, it seems, there is space to talk about happiness once again. The detoxification continues.