Leading article: Spring is sprung

Incorrigible optimists – if there are still any of you out there – take note. Blackest pessimism is still the official order of the day. The Solicitor-General, Vera Baird, has followed the Business minister, Shriti Vadera, into enforced radio silence after hinting that she might have detected the tiniest of tiny "green shoots". The timing of her remarks was at least as ill-advised as Lady Vadera's; she let them slip shortly after the Government's admission that unemployment had topped 2 million in the first quarter.

Ms Baird's evident caution helped her not one whit. "One is reasonably confident," she said, "that there will, before very long, be green shoots." This was less Pollyanna than Girl Guide leader, desperate to keep up her patrol's spirits when lost in the deep, dark forest. Either that or she was distracted by the glorious early spring so much of the country has been enjoying. We hesitate to mention it, but if you look around, there's suddenly quite a lot of that green stuff about.