Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mrs and Mr Balls

I have always maintained that if there was a future Prime Minister in the Balls household, it was Yvette rather than Ed - most recently in this post published on Monday.

Today, with Ed Balls in hot water after apparently saying "So what?" to a claim that UK taxes are now the highest in history, I wonder whether the wider political commentariat might now start to realise this.

While Ed was making a fool of himself in the Chamber, and providing an open goal for David Cameron as he sought to dismantle the Budget, Yvette was doing the rounds of College Green and the TV studios presenting the Government's case in her usual cool, calm, quietly persuasive manner.

Mike Smithson goes so far as to speculate today that Balls' antics might have cost Labour the next election. I would certainly agree that the more the public sees of Balls, the less they will be inclined to vote for the party.

Balls was already deeply implicated in last autumn's election debacle, shooting his mouth off on the radio about whether "the gamble" lay in holding the election or delaying - with the clear implication that the riskier course was delay.

I believe that was the moment when the public began to turn against Brown, the moment it became clear that the decision over whether to hold the election was being very clearly determined not by the national interest but by narrow party advantage.

Gordon should have learned his lesson from that and put Balls firmly back in his box before now, but old loyalties notwithstanding, perhaps it's time he echoed the words of Clem Attlee to Harold Laski - and I use the full quote here advisedly.

"I can assure you there is widespread resentment in the Party at your activities and a period of silence on your part would be welcome."

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Justin said...

I can't stand Balls and I'm reluctant to defend such a loathsome character but if you watch the video of that exchange with Cameron you can clearly see that Balls is saying 'so weak'.

A child could tell you that, not that some Tory bloggers ever let the truth get in the way of anything.

Paul Linford said...

Loath as I am to defend the Tory blogosphere, I don't think that's quite right Justin. Balls is clearly seen to say "so weak" - but only after Cameron has picked him up for saying "so what?" This is consistent with the theory that Balls did indeed say "so what?" and then, realising his mistake, tried to make out that he had said "so weak." The fact that he had gone as red as a very ripe beetroot or a very pissed whisky-drinker by this point is possibly significant though not conclusive.

The bottom line is that the videotape does not show Balls mouthing the original outburst, and neither can it be heard above the din, so I suspect this one will never be proved either way. But rather like Cherie Blair's "That's a lie" outburst during Gordon's 2006 conference speech, I suspect it will be believed despite the denials because it would be so entirely in character.

Barnacle Bill said...

Giving Blinky the benefit of doubt, much as I dislike him, I think he was actually saying "Swot" to George Osborne who was taking notes as David Cameron spoke.
That is more in line with the immature public school boy he is.
But as soon as Cameron picked it up, Blinky realized that the two remarks are so similar as to be indistinguishable in the heat of the moment, hence the red face.
Unfortunately for Blinky its a Ratner moment, which will now follow him everywhere.
I know it is of no comfort to Mr. Balls but, my old grandmother always used to warn me "... you only get what you deserve in life."

rob's uncle said...

Thanks for the full Attlee quote, which I had not seen before.