Yes, the UK GDP figure was up by 0.3 per cent in the first three months of the year, but that was only enough to reverse the fall in the previous quarter and all the good news came from the service sector.
The manufacturing sector fell by 0.3 per cent and the construction industry was down 2.5 per cent, which is 6.5 per cent lower than the same quarter the previous year.
The health of the construction industry is obviously extremely important to air conditioning. According to building services research group BSRIA, mechanical services account for around 30 per cent of the capital cost of a building.
A strong services sector is obviously a positive sign, but unless we are all going to end up trying to sell cups of coffee to each other, it is the manufacturing and construction sectors that we surely need to strengthen.
But instead of concentrating on the economy, the only figure that the media and political classes seem to be concerned with is the fact that UKIP took a quarter of the vote in the recent local elections. Since then, virtually all political debate seems to have been about Europe or immigration.
Even the Queen’s Speech was non-committal from a business point of view. To be fair, there were a couple of bright spots: there was a National Insurance Contributions Bill, designed to reduce the cost to small businesses of employing people, and a Draft Deregulation Bill aimed at reducing the amount of regulation with which businesses, individuals and public bodies have to comply. This last one would be particularly good for the cooling industry, if the reality eventually matches the intent, but I will wait and see.
There was also a further stage on the progress of the High Speed 2 rail link, which is bound to bring attendant business opportunities for our sector, when it eventually begins, but this is jam tomorrow when we need bread and butter today.
No one is saying that Europe and immigration are not important issues, but surely the most important issue for the country in general is the revival of the economy.
The government cannot allow itself to get distracted from this central issue by its anxieties about UKIP. To quote Bill Clinton’s campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid”.
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director at FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK