Election 2017: Why was the economy not such a campaign centre point?

Economists have revised down UK growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright:

Economists have revised down UK growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2016 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Since the financial crash of 2008, who can lead the strongest economy has been a central debate in general election campaigns.

David Cameron's party won this debate in 2010 and again in 2015 with promises to eliminate the deficit and impose an austerity agenda to rein in public spending and 'balance the books', a phrase which often rolled off chancellor George Osborne's tongue.

However, aside from soundbites from Theresa May about a 'strong and stable economy', all parties were light on the details – and deficit reduction was almost taken off the table, with public spending commitments coming to the fore.

This is despite market volatility, increasing inflation and wage stagnation in the aftermath of the Brexit vote last June.

So why did the economy go from centre stage to a cameo role in this election?

Clare Goodswen, partner at M&A Partners in Norwich, said: 'It is very interesting that the Tories did not major on the economy.

'The whole thing from their point of view was hung on Brexit, and what happened with social care burnt their fingers.

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'The Labour party were more focused on tax and the economy while the Conservatives tried to brush it under the table.'

She added: 'I think it is a sign of the times but also arrogance. The Tories assumed that their policies of cutting the deficit and public sector funding were taken as read. It is a juggernaut that has come screaming to a halt.'

Andy Rodwell, recruitment manager at OSR Recruitment in Norwich, believed other priorities may have overtaken economics in the minds of the electorate.

Mr Rodwell, who heads the finance and accounting team, said: 'It is not a topic that has been talked about as much in comparison to the last time around.

'We have Brexit and the pending changes to the NHS. There are a lot of other things people care about.

'With the deficit, it seems like we are constantly fighting an uphill battle and not making any headway. The Conservatives implemented measures to try to decrease it and it does not seem to have had any impact.'

Among the Conservatives who were ousted were economic secretary to the treasury Simon Kirby and financial secretary to the treasury Jane Ellison, leaving chancellor Philip Hammond with gaps in his team.