The latest quarterly figures for GDP growth of 0.2 per cent are just good enough in political terms, especially given that special factors knocked off 0.5 per cent: Growth . They are below expectations and disappointing comparatively, but just enough to prevent Ed Balls creating a political firestorm.
Consumer demand is being hit by the squeeze on incomes. But what is not talked about very much is the underlying structural weakness of an economy that is so dependent on consumer demand, something like two-thirds of the total. Debt fuelled 'privatised Keynesianism' as Colin Crouch has called it is not going to return any time soon.
In terms of short term fixes, a cut in VAT has been recommended. That would stimulate consumer demand and have a positive effect on inflation. However, it would also cut revenues and that would undermine the deficit reduction policy which is already encountering plenty of difficulties.