As France returned to recession and German growth disappointed in the first quarter of 2013, many are quick to suggest that this vindicates the coalition's economic policy. While French growth stood at just -0.2 per cent and German GDP creaked up at 0.1 per cent, the UK's 0.3 per cent improvement looks comparably strong.
Our economy may be looking stronger, but 0.3 percentage points of growth are nothing to cheer about. There is still much that can be done to boost output, yet many are willing to accept lower trend growth. All three of these economies are spluttering and the aggregate Eurozone figure is unlikely to look healthy when it is released at 10.00.
This is no great victory for the UK. In fact, it gives us more cause for concern. It is in our best interests that our trading partners succeed economically, providing us with more opportunities for exchange and boosting the wellbeing of UK households. The idea that our relative success is good news is absurd, we should be more concerned with our flagging absolute performance.
If there is a good news story here, it is that Ed Miliband's remarks in favour of socialist French president Francois Hollande can be used against him. Saying last year that French "determination to create growth and jobs" through high government spending should be reproduced in the UK, the Labour leader can now look across the channel to a country experiencing a triple-dip recession and higher unemployment than our own.
@pawelmorski Q1 2013 is being added to the history curriculum alongside 1415 and 1815— Graeme Wearden (@graemewearden) May 15, 2013