There's no spin that can make GDP figures better

The new GDP figures are out. They're not as important as you might think.

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Growth is down! Or, subject to revision a later date, up, or merely stagnant. The latest GDP figures have been released by the Office for National Statistics putting growth at 0.3 per cent , compared to 0.6 per cent in the last three months of 2014 and 0.7 per cent three months earlier.

It's not as politically significant as you might think. That growth appears to be down allows Labour to go into the election warning that George Osborne's cuts are are risk to the recovery - but they were going to do that anyway. Equally, it allows the Conservatives to say that the recovery is too fragile for a change of course - but, again, they were going to do that anyway.

Ultimately what matters is not the last few months but the last five years - that most people's wage rises have been anaemic at best and non-existent at worst, that the years since the financial crisis have been ones of constant belt-tightening. Don't forget that Labour went in the election with the economy on the road to recovery, but were still punished heavily for the crises of 2007-08. What will decide the election isn't what the parties will say about 0.3 per cent here or there in 2015 - but who the voters decide is to blame for the recession of 2011-12. 

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. He also co-hosts the New Statesman podcast.

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