Economy grew faster under the Tories, says think-tank

GORDON Brown’s claim to economic competence will receive another blow today, when a respected think-tank says the economy performed better under Tory rule between 1979 and 1997 than it has under Labour.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) will say that the economy under Labour has grown at an average of two per cent a year, compared with 2.2 per cent when Margaret Thatcher and John Major were in power.

Despite this, Labour will take solace in the fact that Britain has outperformed most other economies in the G7 group, which also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. Since 1997, it has had the second highest growth rate in the group of industrialised nations, whereas under the Tories it was in third place.

But the NIESR will criticise Labour for not cultivating a culture of saving in the years before the recession and for failing to address the question of how to pay for an ageing population.

And it will say promises to ring-fence spending on schools, hospitals and police will make it much harder to reduce the country’s yawning £163bn budget deficit.

“Labour has delivered an improvement in Britain’s productivity performance relative to other large economies,” said Martin Weale, the director of NIESR.

He added: “But the labour market has not done well... and performance during the recession has been disappointing.”