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Most of our economic problems are beyond the control of politicians

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Here is the terrible truth about the ability of politicians to grow the economy, and boost the stock market. They can’t really.

As Simon French at Panmure Gordon puts it: “Over the next six weeks there will be plenty of claims from both sides of the UK political divide as to their respective economic credentials. Most of these claims will be best ignored.”

He examines data going back to 1955 and finds that GDP growth is basically the same under Labour or the Tories.

Maybe the pound is stronger under the Conservatives. Maybe deficits have been a bit lower. The stock market, counter-intuitively, has done better overall under Labour.

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Quarter by quarter – since 1955 remember – the economy has grown by 0.57% under the Conservatives and 0.59% under Labour.

If those sound to you like the sort of numbers that don’t make much difference either way, you are right.

What should we take from this? Perhaps that claims from politicians about what they can do for the economy require a dose of salt big enough to give a heart attack to a horse.

Many of our economic problems are out of our control.

No one wants to admit this, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

Could the Bank of England, had it acted with brilliant foresight, have prevented rocketing inflation?

No. It was to do with energy prices jumping because Vlad Putin is crazy.

Can government slash borrowing by penny-pinching means that cut the deficit? No. Most of what it spends is on stuff it has already agreed to pay for, the question is how much that is going to cost, and whether markets might baulk at the price (we’re ok so far,).

That the big things are outside their control is not a message politicians want to give. Perhaps it would be adult of some of them to say so and see how many of us can take it.

The chances of this happening between now and July 4 are, in strict actuarial terms, 0.0% recurring.