The Guardian has this rather neat graph showing the depth of the current recession compared to others:
The red line of the current recession does seem to follow the Great Depression pretty faithfully, although thankfully it stopped short of the depths of that one. The government can take some credit for preventing it getting quite that bad; if the banks had been allowed to fail then who knows how far we would have fallen? It’s qualified credit though – tighter regulation of the banks may well have made intervention unnecessary.
Hopefully all parties have learned the lesson of the 1930’s and won’t plunge us into a double-dip.