The next set of GDP figures are going to play a key role in the election campaign. They are due out on April 22
with polling day expected to be a fortnight later. Brown desperately needs a good growth number so that he can try and make the case that his policies have steered Britain through the recession, he’s hoping that the voters don’t take account of the fact that pretty much no other major economy has had a recession as long or as deep as Britain has. If the number turns out to be negative rather than positive, then that would surely be the end of whatever chance Brown has of stopping the Tories getting an overall majority. Even another o.1-style number would not be good for Brown.
One added problem in all this for Brown is the frozen start to the year. Although, the GDP numbers are seasonally adjusted, they do not take into account the actual weather. So if there is an abnormality, as there was this year, then it will show up in the figures. There are only 13 weeks in a quarter and so the fact that we have already had so many more snow days than normal this quarter could well end up being significant.