Expectations are for a Gordon Brown “recovery” speech on Tuesday when he faces the TUC Conference in Liverpool.
For all the (slightly) better economic/financial data out there, there is still an obvious dichotomy that Britain faces. Do you define the downturn by GDP figures (the formal definition of recession beging two quarters of contraction) or on unemployment figures?
With the dole queue set to grow for years to come, it’s a vital question.
Brendan Barber, head of the TUC, made the point this morning on the BBC’s Politics Show:
I don’t think that’s a real recovery until we begin to see unemployment coming down, and I fear that we, we’re a long way off that.
Alan Johnson was on similar ground, albeit in a slightly garbled way:
I don’t think we’re through the worst of the recession, I, I mean it’s a matter, I think Alistair Darling has led us through this, with Gordon Brown, in, in, absolutely calling every single turn of this the right way. When, when we look at this now, there.. I don’t think we can say that we won’t get any more bad labour market figures, I don’t think we can say that we’re in a situation now where manufacturing is going to recover completely, what we can say, I think, is we’ve seen the early signs, in the construction industry, in consumer confidence, in my own constituency here we’ve seen that the, that the increase in unemployment has kind of levelled off. Now I’d like to think that’s the early signs, but I think there’s a long way to go and what I think the British public need to do as we approach the next Election is listen to the various … plans of the parties for how to get through this…
Of course, no minister wants to prematurely call the recovery. Spotting green shoots is a risky business, as Baroness Vadera found out earlier this year.
Precisely how Mr Brown will address this question on Tuesday will be fascinating to watch. I suspect there will be more rather more about how Labour prevented a financial catastrophe than premature optimism about the imminent future.
According to Sky the speech will include this:
Today we are on a road towards recovery – but things are still fragile not automatic and the recovery needs to be nurtured. People’s livelihoods and homes and savings are still hanging in the balance, and so today I say to you: don’t put the recovery at risk.
“Road towards recovery” is a phrase which covers all options pretty well. It could be a swift road – but also a long and winding one with many potential setbacks etc etc