Wednesday News Review

Bounce for Balls?

Ed Balls has won praise for his opposition to Tory plans

Coverage of him in the media has been too dismissive. Recently, when he failed to secure the endorsement of the massive Unite trade union (which he had long been cultivating), there was talk of his “humiliation”, and his impending withdrawal from the race. Some in the press make him out to be a figure of fun (an honourable exception was this Spectator editorial). In fact, many within Labour think Mr Balls has had his reputation more enhanced by the contest than either David or Ed Miliband, one of whom will nevertheless win the election in September. He has landed blows on Michael Gove, the Tory education secretary. His resilience in the face of difficult odds has impressed many. He now has a good chance of being appointed shadow chancellor by whichever Miliband wins the leadership. That was not so certain when the race began in May. – The Economist

Yet if you look at what the five have said and done in the past month or so then a different picture emerges – for the one who is demonstrating again and again that he’s the best equipped politician is the same Mr Balls. Just read his thinking and analysis of Labour’s challenge in his recent interview with the Times and you see observations and insights that are not coming from the other four. Take his assertion that Labour has allowed itself to be distracted by the Lib Dems when the main target for the party’s fire-power should be the Tories. Take also his observation that Labour did not lose the election because of its lack of appeal to middle income groups – rather it was the failure of the party to engage traditional supporters at the bottom end where they lost out. – Political Betting

In like Flint 

DON Valley Labour MP Caroline Flint has signalled she wants to return to front line politics – just over a year after she dramatically quit the cabinet.

The former Europe Minister revealed she is considering putting her name forward for election to Labour’s shadow cabinet. Her comments come 14 months after resigning her cabinet job and accusing then Prime Minister Gordon Brown of using her and other women ministers as “female window dressing”. She also accused Mr Brown of operating a two-tier government consisting of his inner circle and the remainder of the cabinet. – Sheffield Star

Strike support

Daniel Finkelstein has highlighted one of the big dilemmas for the next Labour leader: whether to support strike action against spending cuts. Trade unions including Unison, the PCS, the NUT, the RMT and the FBU are planning a day of national action on 20 October, the day that George Osborne publishes that all-important spending review. Alongside this, Unison is calling on all unions to take part in a Europe-wide day of action on 29 September. Meanwhile, Unite and the GMB have tabled motions that could involve as many 750,000 public sector workers. In the past, Labour leaders have attempted to remain neutral during industrial action, merely expressing their hope that all disputes will be resolved as “swiftly as possible”. But with the leadership candidates determined to position themselves against the coalition’s cuts, neutrality may no longer be an option. – The New Statesman

…no more working for a week or two

You can have too much of a good thing; too much even of a Labour leadership contest that, with two brothers, two Eds and a fair sprinkling of in-jokes, increasingly feels like Ask the Family. But holidays, as the Blairs found to their political cost, are treacherous territory; even non-holiday holidays like the Browns’ don’t hack it. Like a tent, you have to pitch it just right especially if – as every aspiring Labour leader must be mid-contest – you’re in the business of winning votes. So here’s to five variations on the theme of not too proletarian (trying too hard), not too bling (too much déjà vu), not staying put (too much different déjà vu), not too long, not too short, not too near, not too far, and trying hard to get it just right. – The Independent

Where is the Labour Boris?

If Labour bided its time, other candidates might emerge. Just look at the Tories’ experience. For most of Ken’s second term, London Tories scratched their heads, unable to think of a candidate both willing and able to oust the incumbent. Sebastian Coe? Michael Portillo? Greg Dyke? Then, in July 2007, along came Boris. Note the date: Johnson declared himself just 10 months before polling day. It took until then for the then Henley MP to conclude that Livingstone could be beaten. That scenario worked for the Tories, but by rushing the process Labour has ensured nothing like it – the emergence of an Alan Johnson, say, or even an Alan Sugar – can happen to them. – UTV

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply