Figures out today from the ONS showed that the UK economy grew by 0.2% in Q2 2008 - identical growth to that which we had in Q1 2005, just before the 2005 general election.
Conservatives who have been confidently predicting that we were in recession in Q2 will be bitterly disappointed. As expected, construction decreased sharply, but transport, service and communications increased strongly (by 2.2% compared to 0.7% in Q1). Post and telecommunications made the largest contribution to the aceleration. I expect this is because people are taking to ordering goods cheaply online (which requires post delivery) rather than going to town centres. Financial services were weak, but computer services were strong.
The significance of this GDP result is that New Labour have now completed 11 full years of consecutive growth in GDP - a record that no other British government has ever achieved. It's a pity that the news has come on the day of the by-election defeat in Glasgow East and thus overshadowed.
Still, whatever happens, we have set the benchmark for all future governments this century. Any government who cannot deliver eleven consecutive years of growth will be deemed a Failure.
I'm sure Tories are rushing to claim that this was all down to "favourable world conditions". Actually, world conditions in the last eleven years have been anything but favourable. In 1998, Russia defaulted on her sovereign debt, a hedge fund went bust, there was a credit crunch similar to that today and there was a capital flight out of the asia economies plunging them into recession (including Japan, whose economy contracted by 2% in 1998 and by 0.1% in 1999 - a very severe recession by any standards). In 2001 the USA was in recession for eight months following the dot-com bust and 9/11. In 2003, France, Germany and Italy all went officially into recession. In Germany things got so bad that unemployment climbed to over 10%, the highest since the 1930's.
But in Britain, we just sailed on. If it was really down to "world conditions" then the USA, Japan, France, Germany and Italy would not have experienced any recession either, seeing as "world conditions" applied to them too.
I believe we will come through the current global crisis too, as long as the Labour government is in power. We have been living in a fantastic golden age, which will come to an end when New Labour finally exit the scene. Après New Labour, le deluge.