Ed Ball’s will be the sacrifice that seals a coalition deal between Labour and the SNP, if senior members of Ed Miliband’s inner circle have their way.
As private debate within Labour circles intensifies on the terms of a potential deal with the SNP, Uncut has learned that some of Ed Miliband’s closest advisers are plotting to sack Ed Balls in a bid to secure Ed Miliband’s tenure in Number 10, in the event of a hung parliament where Labour is not the largest party.
Insiders familiar with these discussions over the past few weeks describe a scenario where Labour would have to “reset its economic standing with the public” and demonstrate to the SNP that it would not be “wedded to austerity-lite.”
For some of Ed Miliband’s closest and oldest advisers, removing Ed Balls would achieve both objectives as well as ridding them of a potentially truculent and obstructive Chancellor.
The animosity between Ed Miliband’s inner circle and Ed Balls is well known. Last year Uncut revealed how team Miliband had plotted to sack Ed Balls in the Autumn reshuffle only to be thwarted by the Labour leader’s weakness coming out of conference season. And just last week the Sunday Times reported on the depth of the recurring tensions between Miliband and Balls.
The recent bitter negotiations between the shadow Chancellor and Labour leader on how to fund Ed Miliband’s cherished cut in tuition fees, are said to have hardened views within Miliband’s circle.
Now this enmity is centre-stage in Labour’s developing psycho-drama over whether to strike a coalition deal with the SNP.
A sizeable section of the parliamentary party, not to mention Labour’s newly elected leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, would be bitterly opposed to treating with the Scottish nationalists.
However, Murphy’s rage at any potential deal with the SNP only sweetens the prospect of a coalition agreement with the SNP for some of Ed Miliband’s advisers, as well as a section of MPs close to the unions, who would be pivotal to bolstering PM Miliband’s position within the parliamentary party.
As one disillusioned shadow cabinet adviser put it to Uncut, when describing the way the disparate coterie around Ed Miliband viewed a deal with the SNP,
“Half of them want to shaft Balls, half of them want to get Murphy and most of all, they all want to keep their jobs and not be out on their ears as failures. Most will say yes to a deal enthusiastically, no-one is going to say no.”