Saturday 23rd February 2013
Note to Labour MPs: Stop celebrating now. Moody's downgrade is for not cutting public spending fast enough
Chuka Ummuna, the Shadow Business Secretary, can hardly contain his glee tonight. "For a Chancellor who placed such great store on what the ratings agencies say, this downgrade is hugely embarrassing," he tweeted earlier.
But before any more Labour MPs claim total victory in the long-running argument about the best way to stimulate economic growth, they should read the Moody's report in full. Far from admonishing the Chancellor for cutting "too deep, too fast", the credit ratings agency criticises him for the slower-than-expected "pace" of "deficit and debt-to-GDP reduction", "mounting debt levels" and failure "to reverse the debt trajectory" set in motion by the last government. Most pointedly, the agency threatens to downgrade Britain even further if the Chancellor shows any signs of a "reduced political commitment to fiscal consolidation".
In other words, the reason Moody's has downgraded the UK is because the Chancellor hasn't pursued his programme of fiscal consolidation aggressively enough. The report might as well be headed: "Cuts? What cuts?" Hardly a ringing endorsement of Labour's critique of the Chancellor's fiscal strategy, then. More like a vindication of those Conservatives – like John Redwood – calling for faster and deeper cuts.
© 2004 - 2013 Toby Young