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The thump and grind of economic opinion on days such as Friday is formidable. The reason that last week ended in such a frenzy was that the Office for National Statistics released data showing that Britain’s economic output had increased. Compared to growth in the second three-month period of 2013, growth in the third three month period was 0.8 per cent higher.

Growth—the magic word. The twittersphere lit up with government crowing, as MPs and commentators were elated by, as they saw it, the victory of Osbornian austerity. On the other side of the divide those unsympathetic to the government’s…

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