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April 25, 2012

Why is the Political Response to the Double-Dip Recession so Muted?

By Spear's

The long-dreaded double-dip recession has arrived, but what is surprising is how little political impact these shoddy economic figures have had.

The long-dreaded double-dip recession has arrived, with the UK economy shrinking 0.2 per cent in the last quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics. Some economists have questioned the figures, saying that several industry surveys have posted higher growth figures – although no one could argue that the UK has achieved any meaningful recovery.

What is so surprising, then, is how little political impact these shoddy economic figures have had. Cameron and Osborne remain unapologetic about their advocacy of austerity, even though the fear that cutting ‘too hard, too fast’ could cause the recession has been realised.

Yesterday it was reported that Labour had leapt forward 8 points in opinion polls following the Conservatives’ biggest ever poll slump — the Guardian/ICM poll yesterday put the Conservatives at 33 per cent, Labour at 41 per cent at the Lib Dems at 15 per cent.  And yet the baffling thing is that Labour could have capitalised much more on the country’s economic woes if only it could come up with an economic alternative — and embarrassingly, it hasn’t.

At the same time, a poll published today by the Hansard society reported that only 42 per cent of the public were interested in politics, down 58 per cent from last year and the lowest ever since the survey began. This lack of interest in politics is surprising given the country’s current economic woes and the pressing need for enlightened political leadership — surely now, more than ever, the public should be engaging with politicians and calling them up on their failure to bring about growth? But public disillusionment is too great.

The poll shows just how uninspiring British politics has become. Perhaps it is no wonder that the country’s economic performance has been similarly underwhelming.
Read more by Sophie McBain

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