This article presents some basic political arithmetic on UK economic performance, including empirics on the sources of new job creation and regional differences. These empirics support an argument about the need for new measures and concepts of national success and failure. This is so because, as we show in the UK case, the standard post 1940 economic measures of GDP and unemployment give a seriously misleading picture of national success. This is an opportunity for accountants to join with others in devising new measures and concepts. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.