There are some tough jobs in the world, but in terms of having to sort out the economic mess left by the last Labour Government, being chancellor of the exchequer must be up there as one of toughest.
Throughout the recession George Osborne has been barracked from all sides for his unswerving dedicated to his economic ‘Plan A’, but maybe now the tide is turning.
We’ve all had some tough medicine to swallow; some have taken it better than others while many of the public have treated him like the pantomime villain of the piece – if you take George’s appearance at the Olympics where he was booed by the crowd.
George knows that when you put yourself in the firing line you’ll be shot at, but he appears to have deflected the bullets quite well and if the recent economic news is anything to go by, he can now step out of the trenches and go on the offensive.
Despite his own warning last week at the G20 Summit in Russia to his Conservative colleagues to not ‘get ahead of themselves’ in celebrating the recovery of the UK economy, I think, secretly, the chancellor is raising a wry smile at the progress the country is making.
I wrote when George announced his Budget last year that he had done well with the cards he had been dealt. But like any good poker player will tell you, it’s not the hand you’re dealt, it’s how you play the game.
Of course I’m not suggesting that the chancellor has gambled with the economy, but he has held his nerve and played the game very well.
Evidence of this is clear from the economists and business groups that recently raised their growth forecasts. Last week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development upgraded its 2013 outlook to 1.5 per cent from its original prediction of 0.8 per cent earlier in the year.
The body also suggested that the annualised rate of growth in the final six months of the year should rise to about 3.5 percent, which is above the country’s two to 2.3 per cent estimate growth rate.
A similar story comes from the British Chamber of Commerce, which, a few days before, published its revision to its forecasts predicting growth of 1.3 per cent, up from its previous 0.9 per cent figure.
While these predictions will be welcome reading to the chancellor, and the rest of us of course, he will have been even further heartened by the real numbers coming out of businesses including from those in the service sector, which have enjoyed the fastest amount of growth for six years.
Even the hard-hit construction sector appears to be enjoying a resurgence with the industry growing at its fastest pace since 2007.
If the poet/songwriter Ian Dury was still with us it looks like he’d have plenty of economic material for ‘Reasons to be Cheerful, Part Four’!
But it’s not time to be singing just yet. The chancellor is right to play down the pace of the recovery. We can’t afford to get the bunting out and celebrate our hard work of the past five or so years. The work can’t end here.
We experienced a flat-lining economy for quite a while, but now the lifelines are returning we have to make sure the rehabilitation continues. With George Osborne controlling the country’s care plan, we might just get our economy back to full health.
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