Curiouser and curiouser. We in Coffee House have been saying for some time now that – whatever Mervyn King thinks – Britain has the worst inflation in the Western World apart from Greece. An OECD report out today shows we’ve got it worse than most eastern countries too. Korea, Turkey and Estonia are the only eastern nations with higher inflation:
But what strikes me most about today is that food prices are soaring here, to an extent far worse than the rest of the world. This is what voters notice most: putting food on the table is very expensive. As Micawber might put it: annual food price inflation 6.3 per cent, annual wage inflation 2.5 per cent, result: misery. And plenty of it.
So Britons are facing the worst food increases of any G20 country, apart from Turkey and Korea. As I argued at the weekend, George Osborne had best broaden his focus from growth, because prices, not jobs, are turning out to be the killer issue of 2011.
Labour put out a press release today saying that George Osborne has no policies to deal with the food price rises. Of course he doesn’t: no VAT is paid on food, and this isn’t an Arab dictatorship where we subsidise grain to stop riots. But Labour are trying to champion cost of living issues to reconnect with the voters and say ‘we’re on your side’.