There will be plenty of attempts to put a negative spin on last Friday’s growth figures, says Dan Hodges in The Daily Telegraph.
It will be said that the recovery is not yet being felt in people’s wallets; that it is based on exactly the same sort of property-price boom that precipitated the 2008 crash.
Nevertheless, in political terms, “it is just white noise”. What matters is that the government got the “big call right”, while Labour got it wrong. Labour “gambled that the government’s strategy would push the economic political cycles out of alignment”, that private-sector jobs would never materialise, that Plan A was doomed to fail. They were wrong on each count.
News that UK GDP accelerated to 0.8% between July and September will not change either party’s political fortunes overnight, but the message will “slowly but surely” start to permeate the consciousness of the electorate.
Politically, the growth figures are good news for the Conservatives, agrees John Rentoul in The Independent on Sunday. Not only that, under this government – and contrary to popular perception – the country has become “poorer, more equal and happier”.
Real disposable income is 2.2% lower than the level inherited from Labour, but the rich have borne more of the cost of the recession than the poor. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published a bulletin in July revealing that incomes, after taxes and benefits, have become more equally distributed.
In another ONS statistical bulletin, people reported feeling just a little bit happier than a year ago. And if, a year before the election, people feel happier, “that is all there is to it”.
So, why isn’t the Coalition basking in a “warm glow”, and why is David Cameron allowing Ed Miliband to set the agenda? asks The Sunday Times.
“There was no need to get involved in a populist bidding war over energy prices.” David Cameron “does not do hand-to-hand combat well”, and he must up his game if he is not to “squander all the advantages of a stronger economy”.
George Osborne can help him out, says Tim Montgomerie in The Times. He may have been likened to Scrooge and Fagin, but then Margaret Thatcher was hated at first, before she won voters’ respect.
Osborne should “build on the modest economic progress of this parliament and style himself as the Iron Chancellor who will take the tough decisions that Britain needs”, whether simplifying tax, building more houses, cutting red tape from Brussels or increasing airport capacity.
The Tories “don’t need a full-blown boom to win the next election”, but Osborne can make it clear that the economy is on the right track for the long term.