by Atul Hatwal
Nothing is more revealing of the emotional and political lacuna at the heart of the non-Corbyn Labour party than the veneration of Ed Balls.
It’s not just Ed Balls day. On its own that’s transitory Twitter fluff. More problematic is the way he’s viewed by so many moderates as this huge Labour presence. A lost sage, sprinkled with sparkly Strictly stardust.
His interventions are treated by MPs, former advisers, journalists and swathes of the Labour Twitterati as if he some extraordinary combination of Attlee and the Fonz. You can almost hear the giggling in the tweets gushing over him.
Labour’s problems with Jeremy Corbyn are well documented but less aired is the dire state of the alternative. In Michael Dugher’s valedictory interview with the New Statesman, explaining his reasons for standing down as an MP he said it was, “no good moderates blaming Corbyn. Labour members were lured to Corbyn out of desperation. What we offered didn’t inspire, it wasn’t radical, it was more of the same.”
Dugher is right and his long-time friend, Ed Balls, is a case study why moderates failed.
Balls was a very good economic adviser to Gordon Brown, an average performer in parliament on a good day (sometimes, as with his response to the Autumn Statement in 2014, he was atrocious), patchy on broadcast and an absolutely dreadful political strategist.
When he became shadow chancellor in early 2011, he set a benchmark for success as getting ahead of the Tories on the economy. Labour went into the 2015 election almost twenty points behind. That’s his responsibility.