SPEECH ON THE POLITICS OF LESS

ECONOMY DEBATE 6TH DECEMBER 2011, HOUSE OF COMMONS

I shall use the time available to make a couple of points about the economic challenge facing the country, and in particular about the era of the politics of less. All of us must look to achieve our political and economic aims in an era of lower growth than we have been used to in recent years.

The central feature of the autumn statement last week was the further downgrading of economic forecasts for the short term. The Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded its growth forecast for this year from 2.6% to 0.9% and for next year from 2.8% to 0.7%, and said that by 2015 the economy will be 3.5% or £65 billion smaller than previously forecast. The Financial Times has estimated that the gap between the economic growth trajectory had the recession not happened and where we will be in a few years’ time is 14% of GDP. We are therefore entering an era in which our economy is smaller—and by some projections significantly so—than it would otherwise be. Recovery will be weaker than expected, unemployment will be higher and the economy will be smaller for some years to come.

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