What should Labour say about the GDP figures?
It’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves that for thirteen of the last thirteen and a half years Labour has been in government. Being in opposition requires a totally different skill-set and the party is only just learning how to make best use of the limited number of communications opportunities that are available to it.
This morning was a particular challenge. The Q3 GDP increase at 0.8% was far higher than most had expected and, indeed, only one of 39 economists polled by MORI ahead of the announcement had predicted a jump on this scale. So what should rookie shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson, say?
Does he welcome the figures and with it give implicit support to the coalition or does he respond negatively and risk being accused of talking the economy down?
In the above interview with Julia Somerville I thought he got his tone wrong. Yes the 0.8% in Q3 and less than the 1.2% recorded in Q2 but to describe growth as “being down by a third” sounded churlish and opened him to attack from his interviewer.
It would have been far better to say that this was above expectations and was to be welcomed although they had serious ongoing concerns about the coalition’s strategy. What he needs to remember is that there’ll be a next time and if he’s always seen to negative then that will simply get discounted.
He’s making it harder for himself for when there is some really bad news to comment upon.