Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Balls for Leeds, Battle for Lords

There has been much speculation of late as to the fate of Treasury minister and Gordon Brown first lieutenant Ed Balls following the Boundary Commission's decision to do away with his Normanton constituency. Well, I reckon the answer lies in this recent post on Labour Watch.

It reveals that Leeds West MP and former Foreign Office minister John Battle, has become the latest MP, at the age of just 55, to announce he will not be standing again at the next General Election. Leeds West is but a short train ride away from Normanton and his decision leaves a convenient opening for Mr Balls.

Call me a cynic if you like, but I have been in the political game too long not to believe that Battle's reward for this unexpected act of selfless generosity will be to return to government under Gordon Brown as a Minister in the House of Lords.

Mr Balls meanwhile is tipped by many to succeed his old boss at the Treasury, but I reckon the Brownites have pulled off another deal over that one - with one-time Blairite leadership favourite turned enthusiastic Brown cheerleader David Miliband.

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Anonymous said...

re mr Balls, insightful comment, I would say.

with regards to Mr Milliband, think he has ably demonstrated that he would not be put into "play" by his boss, and hence his support for Mr Brown. In terms of a deal, one could say who knows, but it could very possibly be the case. One factor that may not have been factored into this is the wishes of Mr Blair. IN terms of what Mr Brown will have to "give away", i.e his ability to control who gets what job....think it will go to the wire.

Toque said...

I suspect that you are probably right. Hopefully, however, this sort of political patronage - which is nothing short of peerages for favours - might be coming under more scrutiny in future.

After all what has Battle actually done to deserve a seat in the Lords?

James Higham said...

The laugh will be on them when the poll comes round. Or do you you think, Paul, that Labour has a shadow of a chance? I don't mean Cameron's dip in ratings.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the list of MPs standing down, I immediately thought Leeds West can be a possibility for Ed Balls if the seat won't end up with a AWS

Paul Linford said...

Very interesting comment there TrafficOne.

I take it that what you are suggesting is that there will be a last-minute deal in which Blair endorses Brown and thereby marginalises any Cabinet challenger, in return for Brown agreeing to keep Blair's favourites in the top jobs.

I tend to agree that something like this will happen, and that the end result will be that Miliband goes to the Treasury and John Reid stays at the Home Office. I think Gordon will get to appoint his own Foreign Secretary though, and that it will be Peter Hain.

MorrisOx said...

If Brown has any sense, he will go for as many fresh faces as he can (accepting that he owes his allies jobs and may want the odd 'face' to stay) to put distance between himself and the tainted Blair.

So how about a list of who those fresh faces will be and where they will go?

You're right about Hain, by the way.