Outlook The Government has been accused of copying proposed Tory remedies on the credit crunch. Now it seems intent on copying their howlers too. Baroness Vadera, the business minister, is presumably too young, or perhaps ignorant, to know the origins of the famous "green shoots" of economic recovery comment, which she was coaxed into using in an interview for ITV yesterday.
In doing so, she seems to have made exactly the same mistake as Norman Lamont, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1991 also claimed to see the "green shoots of economic spring" while still quite plainly in the midst of the nuclear winter of recession. In his case, it was at least two years before anyone else spotted even so much as a crocus. Baroness Vadera's comments, as the job losses mount, seem equally premature and therefore ridiculous.
To be fair, she did qualify her detection of "a few green shoots" by saying she didn't want to be the one predicting when there might be a recovery. She also said that it was still a little bit early to say how the green shoots would grow. Later, she further clarified her position to say that actually she was referring to the fact that a large company had just managed to raise hundreds of millions of pounds in the debt markets.
Even so, Mervyn Davies, a friend of the Baroness, should beware. Bankers turned Government ministers – Baroness Vadera used to work for UBS – frequently make completely inept politicians, however clever and wealthy they might be. The next thing is the Baroness will be singing in her bath.