The UK economy grew at a faster rate last year than previously estimated, but political analysts are cynical as to whether this will boost the Conservatives’ election chances.
Chancellor George Osborne was enthused after the Office for National Statistics published its third and final growth estimate yesterday.
“GDP revised upwards from 2.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent for 2014,” he tweeted.
“Confirms UK as clearly fastest growing major advanced economy.”
However, Anthony Wells, research director at pollsters YouGov, told City A.M.: “It probably won’t have much impact at all.
“Over the last couple of years as GDP has recovered, people have got more optimistic about the economy, they have started to speak more positively about the government’s economic management and it has increased the Conservatives’ lead on the economy…
“But it hasn’t really done much to improve the Conservative share of the vote.
“I think the problem is that people think the economy as a whole is growing again, but most people still don’t feel it in their own personal finances, and an update to GDP figures won’t change those personal perceptions.”
Professor Philip Cowley, a political scientist at the University of Nottingham, agreed.
“The actual economy – things like GDP – matter much less than whether people think the economy is going to do well for them and their family. This is an area of politics where perceptions trump reality,” he told City A.M.
Meanwhile, a slight improvement in the UK’s trade balance helped to shrink Britain’s current account deficit to £25.3bn, down from £27.7bn in the third quarter.
However, this still represents the largest deficit since records began in 1948.
A measure of Britain’s balance of payments with the rest of the world, the current account deficit now represents 5.6 per cent of GDP.