The Labour government’s political narrative regarding the current economic situation seems to have changed. Instead of insisting that the UK is best placed to weather the storm thanks to Mr Brown’s policies and genius, now the dominant narrative is that this recession is worse than the Great Depression.
Mr Balls, who said that this recession is the most serious for over 100 years, would not have uttered such words without tacit approval from Mr Brown. He has stood by his remarks and Mr Brown has not publicly rebuked him. Mr Ball is, as far as I know, Mr Brown’s trusted and loyal lieutenant. This may have something to do with the timing of the next general election. My hunch is that there will be no election until the parliamentary term ends: if Mr Brown were to call an election before he has to, then there will be an impression – justly or unjustly – that the Prime Minister thinks there is more bad news to come.
The Labour party will hope that there is a synchronization between the economic recovery and the big political narrative (therefore the electorate’s collective memory): the darkest moments are in the past and real "green shoots" appear in early 2010. Despite the horrendous economic situation and unpopularity in the preceding years, Mr Brown has managed to pull Britain out of it, whereas the Conservatives were doom-mongers and "do nothing" party.
Somehow, it still sounds a little too optimistic.
My views on Mr Balls were out of date: he seems to be vying for his boss’s job. However, the new narrative would fit a new leader as well: building on the foundations laid by Mr Brown and exercising the necessary leadership to get Britain out of the recession before the end of the parliamentary term. Not a chance, I’d venture to guess (I mean economic recovery, not a new Labour PM).