By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter
It was not Ed Miliband's best PMQs. On the face of it he had an open goal with the ratings downgrade but, as I suggested on Twitter, the increased resonance of the deficit issue may not be to Labour's strategic advantage. The Tories have a small lead on economic competence but a much larger lead when it comes to taking the tough decisions necessary to restore balance to the public finances. The more voters are thinking about the deficit the worse it's going to be for Labour.
David Cameron seemed to appreciate that today. I’m not arguing for one moment, he told the Commons, that the
judgment of the ratings agency doesn’t matter. The PM went on to argue that the message from Moody's was that Britain needed to go further and faster in tackling borrowing. He then went on to the attack. It’s Labour’s
policy to deal with the problem of excessive borrowing by borrowing more, he claimed. He then joked that Daniel Day-Lewis had played Abraham Lincoln very well but not as well as Ed Miliband was playing Gordon Brown. A confident Cameron said that he wasn't going to take lectures from a political party that sold the nation's gold, bust the banks, caused the deficit and wasn't willing to apologise for any of it.
The PM said the Government already had big achievements. The deficit was down by a quarter, one million more private sector jobs had been created and Britain was benefiting from low interest rates. Ed Miliband protested that the deficit was going up and that the Coalition would be borrowing £212 billion more than it had originally planned. This, the Labour leader said, was a downgraded government, a downgraded Chancellor and a downgraded prime minister.
Mr Miliband may not have improved his relations with the New Statesman, however. The PM quoted the weekly magazine and the Leader of the Opposition replied by saying that the PM was "scraping the barrel" by doing so. I can't imagine its Editor, the admirable Jason Cowley, will like that. The New Statesman was the only serious journal to endorse the Labour leader's bid to succeed Gordon Brown!