Sean O’Grady asked a question I had wanted to blog about for a while: which sort of growth figures best suit the Labour case? Given that their policies are based on the idea that Britain’s recovery is still fragile – and liable to be upset by a government spending retrenchment, as Keynesian effects swamp the non-Keynesian sort in the short run – it is not entirely clear that they would welcome news that the economy grew at 1% in the first quarter – when the first provisional estimates come out late April.

Which is what David Smith indicates might be likely, on the basis of industrial/manufacturing figures released already.  Smith’s column also talks about employment figures.  He is the first I have noticed make this point:

an essential counterpart to foreigners working in Britain is the fact that millions born in the UK work in other countries. There are no official figures for this but we know that of the hundreds of thousands who emigrate every year, a high proportion do so for work reasons. This is not to deny that some people have legitimate concerns about the pace of immigration in recent years. But let’s have the full picture.

This is  extremely relevant when people worry about the effects of globalisation on UK employment.  Suppose that 90% of well-educated workers stay in the UK and the rest work abroad.  Also suppose that having a well-educated workforce increases the number of foreigners coming here to work in some lower-skilled jobs.  Division of labour, I believe Smith may have called it. It is quite possible that a ‘successful UK’ story could exist alongside stagnant UK-born-and-working-in-UK picture.  Half my mates have worked abroad, because they are educated.   It would be good to have a complete picture.

If the economy DOES grow fast, then debates about the pace of cutting and monetary-stimulus withdrawal become far more acute.  But so far the debate remains about that tiny amount (in macroeconomic terms) that the Tories promise to cut off spending and use on adjusting NI thresholds.  Phony war, or what.

More later.  My kids are saying “why don’t you play with me?”  Guilt beckons me away, even though ignoring them has projected me up to 75 in Wikio.

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5 thoughts on “We want growth. Does Labour?

  1. There’s another angle to migration as well, and that is that it is not just desperation that drives people to migrate as with (say) the Irish potato famine and much migration today, where of course the ‘solution’ to such forced immigration may actually have something to do with making life tolerable in the countries of origin.

    It appears to me that it is generally some of the best and most creative people who migrate because they cannot fulfil their potential where they are; are simply bored; are curious; are entrepreneurial and lacking opportunity and support, or any combination.

    Limiting migration is a pretty dumb thing to do, therefore, it seems to me because it restricts the flow of new influences, perspectives, insights and knowledge which outsiders potentially bring to communities.

  2. David Smith’s (and your) sensible point has support from a perhaps unexpected direction: last year (during the Lindsay oil refinery dispute) John Monks, former head of the TUC and now head of its European equivalent, pointed out that there were usually more British contracted workers in continental Europe than there continental Europeans in Britain. He also criticised the idea of jobs protectionism: http://www.economist.com/business-finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_TPTDTGPS

  3. Of course ghe truth is that the LibDems are strongly opposed to growth, as are labour & the Conservatives. All of them want to destroy half of our electricity capacity (the inexpensive half) which, since elecgricity production is closely related to national wealth, means they want to destroy half the economy. This is admited by every member of these parties who is remotely honest – which means none of them.

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