Brown's success is exaggerated

Simon Heffer ("Hague gives Labour a perfect target", 7 February) makes the quite absurd statement that "Gordon Brown has, by any objective standards, run the economy better - with the help of Eddie George - than his Tory predecessors". He goes on to say, with complete disregard for the facts, that "while other European economies are basket cases, Britain's has sustainable growth".

I grant that this story is the standard one and that Heffer is in good company, but this simply shows that the whole political class tends to have a weak grasp of numbers. In fact, during the Brown years Britain's growth rate has been lower, both absolutely and relative to the European Union average, than it was in the Major years. A more sober appraisal of the economic situation would be that Britain is taking (relatively modest) part with nearly all advanced countries in a period of fairly sustained growth coupled with low inflation. Messrs Brown and George have virtually nothing to do with this, except that they, along with all other finance officers, are not actually messing it up. If an accolade according to national performance were merited, it would go to the finance minister of Ireland, given that in the past decade Ireland has had the highest growth rate by far.

W Stanners