Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the ban on fox hunting, but the positive economic news that came out had many wondering if Labour’s campaign fox had been shot.
Good economic news is undoubtedly a boost for the coalition parties’ election hopes. This is particularly true of the Tories, who have put their “long-term economic plan” front and centre of the party’s pitch for power in May.
Not only do they regularly poll ahead of Labour on economic competence, but an improving economy puts in jeopardy Labour’s hard-pushed “cost of living crisis” attack on the coalition. Wages are rising well above inflation now.
For Labour’s line to be fully defused though, and for the economy to make a difference on polling day, people have feel it in their pocket.
Philip Cowley, professor of parliamentary government at Nottingham University, summed it up: “Are good economic figures good for the government? Yes they are. Does it necessarily mean Labour’s fox has been shot? I don’t think it does.”
What of the Lib Dems? They will want to claim as much of the credit as possible for positive economic news. One senior source in the party told me that “there are real problems for Labour as they were so forthright [in criticising sluggish wages].” But the source also noted that “ordinary people are still feeling the pinch”.
Ultimately, we can look at all the facts and figures we want, but on election day it’s going to be the economy in people’s pockets that dictates how they vote.