the national scene will have improved a little by then
I wish I could be so optimistic, Duke. All the signs are that things are getting worse not better. See, for example, http://www.ukrecession.com/2012/04/
, which is normally an objective and reliable source.
When this government came to power two years ago, they inherited a very serious economic position, although a fairly weak recovery was at that time under way. Since then everything Osborne has done has made it worse. The recovery of early 2010 was well and truly snuffed out, and as a result the government has had to borrow billions more than it planned just to keep the show on the road. Far from seeing any improvement by 2014, the target date for balancing the books has now slipped back from 2015 to 2017, two years after the next election. And the really scary thing is, Osborne is lashed to the helm of this sinking ship - he can't change direction and stimulate growth, as the Americans have done so effectively, because that would spook the bond markets.
I'm no admirer of Mr Balls either, but surely he couldn't make a bigger mess of it than this.