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.
Re: Note to Labour MPs: Stop celebrating now. Moody
Posted by Irascible Old Git on 23-02-2013 13:08:
That 'Most pointedly' quote in full:
'Downward pressure on the rating could arise if government policies were unable to stabilise and begin to ease the UK's debt burden during the multi-year fiscal consolidation programme. Moody's could also downgrade the UK's government debt rating further in the event of an additional material deterioration in the country's economic prospects or reduced political commitment to fiscal consolidation.'
Any sign of Osborne's policies 'stabilising the debt burden' or reversing the 'material deterioration of the country's economic prospects'?
Nah, thought not.
Pretty good closing credit sequence on #Newsnight. Must have been quite a piece of work putting that together (3 hours ago)