David Blanchflower and GDP growth

I’m now only an occasional watcher of the BBC’s Newsnight programme. But I did see last week the clash between Professor David Blanchflower and Matthew Hancock MP. Blanchflower was typically immoderate in his language, while Hancock was remarkably restrained under Blanchflower’s barrage.

Blanchflower persistently said that the imminent announcement of the numbers of the first quarter of 2011’s GDP growth of the UK economy, would surely indicate a downturn, and therefore presage a double-dip recession for the economy.

The GDP numbers, announced today, are very encouraging. They show that manufacturing production grew by 1.1%, services growing by 0.8%, and it was only construction shrinking by 4.7% that kept the overall growth low. 

The vital ingredient to private sector growth is confidence. Not the misnamed use of the word investment by Gordon Brown, which was in reality government spending. Since the Treasury has no more money, as Labour’s Liam Byrne remarked, it’s the private sector from where we need growth.

The detail in the 1st Qtr GDP numbers supports the government’s case that future growth can come from the private sector. Manufacturing, business services, agriculture/forestry/fishing, and post and telecomms, all saw healthy growth numbers of over 1%. Surprisingly, even the government contributed 0.7% to the growth numbers.

I doubt Newsnight will re-stage the discussion between Blanchflower and Hancock. Good news is not what Newsnight focusses on.

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