Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Talking Balls

Iain Dale predicts that whenever the next election is held, Ed Balls will play a big part in losing it for Labour. Well, in my view Balls has already played a major role in potentially losing the next election for Labour by talking up the election that wasn't.

Although some are trying to blame Douglas Alexander, it was Balls who went on the Today Programme to suggest that the greater risk for Labour lay in not going to the country this year, and it was this, coming on the day the polls showed an 11pc Labour lead, that really sent all the speculation into the stratosphere.

Why was Balls so keen to have an election, I wonder? Could it possibly be the case that Gordon had promised to make him Chancellor of the Exchequer in the post-election reshuffle, as well as making his missus Yvette Cooper a full member of the Cabinet at last?

I know not. But given that Balls has been not inaccurately described as the Deputy Chancellor for most of the past decade, it seems a reasonable enough supposition to me.

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RedEye said...

Having met him at the Black Country Reception at the party conference three years ago, Balls strikes me as a nice guy.

He is, however, an absolutely dreadful media performer, and a dreadful Commons performer. He's like a cross between Mr Bean and Piers Fletcher-Dervish. It's no wonder that Michael Gove knocks the hell out of him at Schools, Children and Families Questions.

He already looks out of his depth in his current post, never mind making him Chancellor.

That is not, however, to say that Brown would not have done so after a General Election victory this Autumn, or that he might not do so in the future.

I read on this blog (probably accurately) that Hillary Benn was regarded as insufficiently vigorous, hence his sideways move in Brown's first Cabinet. Well where's Balls' vigour? Denis Healey's comparison of Geoffrey Howe to a dead sheep springs to mind.

As Mike Smithson has noted at pb, the government has suffered from not having heavyweights speak up for it. The likes of Miliband, Balls, Burnham (saturnine and surly, almost like Kevin the Teenager), and Darling (not all that impressive as Chancellor, it should have been Straw) just don't cut the mustard.

Let's see more of Straw, Johnson, Benn, Hutton, Byrne, and Denham, and less of all these people like Balls and the Brothers Miliband, who were probably perfectly alright working behind the scenes, but are totally unsuited to public exposure.

Hell, bring back Paul Murphy. One of Blair's worst moves was to get rid of him as Northern Ireland Secretary (despite the fact that he'd done a very good job there, not least through managing - most unusually for a holder of the post - to win the trust of both the nationalist and unionist communities).

Paul Linford said...


There's a case, even, for bringing back Charles Clarke, David Blunkett and Alan Milburn in these desperate times. At least the public have heard of them, and hence will be more inclined to listen to what they have to say.

RedEye said...

Indeed, particularly Milburn, of whom I'm a great fan (even if he did make such a mess of chairing Labour's GE campaign last time).

As for Blunkett, his Diaries weren't all that good, but he was charm itself in talking about them at the Country Bookshop in your native Derbyshire.