Peter Hoskin

What Harriet Harman won’t tell you

What Harriet Harman won't tell you
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By her usual standards, Harriet Harman was quite effective in her response to George Osborne's Budget earlier.  She was clear, direct and had a few gags at Vince Cable's expense.  And she also benefitted from what, on the surface, was a strong central attack: the Office for Budget Responsibility, she said, has downgraded its jobs forecasts on the back of the Budget.  And so, she followed, this is a Budget which destroys jobs.

But there were a few things that Harman wasn't letting on.  First, as Jim Pickard points out at the FT, the OBR forecasts haven't shifted by all that much from their previous incarnation.  And, second, they are still more optmistic than most independent forecasts (conveniently collected by the Treasury here).  For instance, the OBR forecasts have the claimant count at 1.5 million next year, whereas the average independent forecast is 1.67 million.  And the OBR forecast drops to 1.2 million by 2014, whereas the average independent forecast drops only to 1.37 million.  Here's the graph:

If Labour are suddenly going to use the OBR's figures as some sort of gold standard, then they might like to admit just how promising they look alongside many other forecasts.