Posts Tagged ‘New Statesman’

Three things we learnt about Ed Balls from his New Statesman interview that he probably didn’t intend

09/01/2014, 12:57:24 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Yesterday, George Eaton landed one of the most revealing interviews with a front rank Labour politician of the past few years.

The topline might have been about Ed Balls’ acceptance that he could work with Nick Clegg, but the broader content of the interview was actually far more interesting. Here are three things we now know about Ed Balls,

1. The relationship with Ed Miliband is as dysfunctional as suspected

One of the most revealing passages of the interview is when George asks whether Ed Miliband has guaranteed Balls will be shadow chancellor in 2015. The response is priceless,

“I’ve never had that conversation with him.”

Think about that for a moment. Despite the constant stream of articles discussing the potential for Ed Miliband to replace Ed Balls, and the endless tea room chatter in the Commons, neither man has felt able to address the elephant in the room in their discussions.

In any normal workplace, the union or staff representatives would demand some clarity if an employee’s position had been subject to so much public speculation.

But it’s not normal, it’s Westminster.

With an election rapidly approaching, Ed Balls would not be human if he did not wonder if he was still going to be in post over the coming months. As both Eds’ know from their time advising Gordon Brown in opposition, the effort involved for a shadow chancellor to prepare for an election, is enormous. It requires hard work, commitment and the full faith of the leader.

As a result of yesterday’s interview, we know that Ed Balls does not feel confident enough to ask for this backing and Ed Miliband is unwilling to give it voluntarily.

Labour’s shadow chancellor is essentially on a zero-hours contract.

2.       Ed Balls has shifted on spending cuts and is now a hawk

The Labour line has always been that the government’s approach to deficit reduction was beyond the pale. “Too far, too fast,” was the phrase in virtually every press release from 2010 through to 2012. For Ed Balls, even the spending reduction path set out before the last election by Alistair Darling was too aggressive. In 2010 he said,

“In government at the time in 2009 I always accepted collective responsibility, but at the time in 2009 I thought the pace of deficit reduction through spending cuts was not deliverable, I didn’t think it could have been done.”

But now, it’s all different.


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We need to stop talking to each other

04/02/2012, 12:00:32 PM

by Charlie Cadywould

David Miliband’s response to Roy Hattersley in New Statesman represents a problem that seems to be endemic to parties of the centre-left. As soon as they are voted out, parties of the centre-left have an identity crisis, and spend years discussing to whom precisely they are to try to appeal.

Hattersley tells us that Labour must go back to its roots, talking explicitly about social democratic values and the morality and efficacy of the central state. Miliband does not disagree on the importance of the central state from a policy perspective: he agrees that there are things that only government can do, and other things that only government can do fairly.

What he objects to is that narrative that Hattersley wants to construct. Miliband wants to talk about making government better, but he agrees that the state needs to do more, he just doesn’t want Labour to frame the argument in that way. Hattersley, no doubt, agrees with Miliband that government can be better, and that local government has an important role to play, but he would prefer Labour’s narrative to be unashamedly about morality and the central state. (more…)

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Bonnie prince Davy, Labour’s lost king

03/02/2012, 09:25:15 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The king over the water is an alluring concept. Over the water the grass is greener. Hopes and aspirations are nurtured, castles built in the air.

Rarely does the inconvenience of reality intrude on the floating possibility or what might be, if only the king could return.

Followers of faraway kings tend to assume away questions on what their leader would actually do with power and fixate on removing the undeserving incumbent.

For all those years in the early 2000s, legions of Brownites (back in the days when such a grouping existed) didn’t give a second thought to tricky details like an alternative policy programme. All would be fine. Plans were bound to have been made by pointy headed wonks in backrooms somewhere. What mattered most was removing Blair. That was the business of politics.

And so the wheel turns and now its bonnie prince Davy who awaits with a promise of a better tomorrow.

The reaction across the media to David Miliband’s article in the New Statesman is defined by lost leader syndrome. All the reporting has been entirely through the prism of a leadership challenge, nothing on the substance of what he’s saying.


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What values should govern, what’s the use of higher education, and when can we start liking Nick Clegg again?

13/04/2011, 03:00:55 PM

by Ray Filar

The Liberal Democrat spin machine has gone into overdrive during the last week. Nick Clegg’s sympathetically candid interview in the New Statesman seems almost like the beginning of a public rehabilitation. The message seems to be that we’ve torn him down, and now, in time honoured media tradition, it’s time to build him back up again. Even the Telegraph’s take on the interview, beneath with the ostensibly mocking headline, “I cry to music and even my sons ask why everybody hates me”, inspires a quick flicker of – what is it – guilt?

The question arises, are we justified in continuing to hate everything Nick Clegg represents, or have we turned into massive playground bullies, continuing to flush our victim’s head down the toilet?

Almost a year into coalition government, it is still worth holding onto the memory of those Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges, embodied by Nick Clegg, that led to a barrage of student protests, vociferous journalistic bile, effigies on bonfires, and his own set of entries in Urban Dictionary. Nobody who can understand that £27,000 is a ludicrous amount of money for three years of lectures and library access will forget the tuition fees betrayal in a hurry. (more…)

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