Peter Hoskin

Will Brown get a Recovery Boost?

Will Brown get a Recovery Boost?
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So would an economic recovery give Labour a slim chance of winning the next election?  That's the question mooted by the Guardian this morning, as their ICM poll discovers that some people planning to vote Tory or Lib Dem would consider switching to Labour if there are "clear signs of a recovery" by May 2010.  That's 9 percent of current Tory "voters" and 22 percent of Lib Dem "voters", to be precise.

To my mind, there are two major impediments to a significant Recovery Boost for Labour.  The first is, simply, that there may not be a recovery.  After all, leaked IMF figures yesterday have downgraded UK growth for this year (putting it at -3.8 percent), and have the economy shrinking by a further 0.2 percent in 2010.  

But let's put that aside, and imagine that there is a recovery by May next year; or at least enough signs of one that the Government can start spinning about "green shoots"* and how "Gordon got us through the worst of it".  This is when I think the race to recovery would enter the equation.  At the moment, the UK is lagging behind other countries.  Indeed, those same IMF figures have Britain as the only major economy without positive growth next year.  If our recovery does come after others - and the opposition parties can push this comparative aspect - then there's little reason to think Brown will be able to capitalise on it.    

*I can just imagine the No.10 strategists telling Shriti Vadera, in April 2010, that she actually needs to resurrect the "green shoots" soundbite...