Osborne faces Commons rating humiliation

During an urgent question on the government's economic policy George Osborne was asked whether he agreed with himself that the UK downgrade is "humiliating". While he rightly pointed out that markets didn't react to the downgrade, that doesn't absolve him of responsibility for the economic conditions that led to it.

Despite having set the AAA rating as the metric by which economic policy should be assessed, Osborne seems to have changed his targets to look at sterling, gilts and other measures. That he has only changed his focus after the downgrade is telling. He is a man who has failed by his own standards.

The Chancellor equated the Labour government with an arsonist who complains that the fireman hasn't put the fire out quickly enough. This isn't quite fair, as while Labour is certainly guilty of engaging in economic vandalism, the Conservatives are by no means dealing with the damage. The UK's fiscal situation sees little improvement. As Osborne opened his remarks he was only able to claim a reduction of the deficit by a quarter. He will have to concede at the next budget that the deficit will not be abolished by 2015. Given the slow pace of spending reductions, he is anticipated to announce that the government's books will not be balanced until 2018.
Our reporter Tim Wallace: