Posts Tagged ‘George Eaton’

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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Warnings from the prophet Ashcroft

12/03/2013, 07:00:36 AM

by David Talbot

Does the Labour party still have a polling department? The party may not have the funds to do private polling on anything like the scale they have done in previous years, but frankly it may not need to. If Labour’s nice new offices on Brewers Green do indeed still contain a polling unit, no one could criticise them for doing almost exactly what the entire political establishment do, and wait for Lord Ashcroft to upload his latest PDFs.

His latest study is an authoritative account of what the British political landscape. It contains the hearty news that a majority of 84 is seemingly within the party’s grasp. But, alas, the good Lord’s work does not contain all good news for Labour– he is a Conservative, after all.

Ashcroft’s continued estrangement from the Conservative party has ironically served his greatest foe. The Daily Mail ran the curious tale of the peer meeting with Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election co-ordinator from the 2010 campaign. Seemingly, both sides have conveniently forgotten they spent years openly trying to destroy each other – indeed; many defeated Labour MPs owe their redundancy in large part to his finance. And yet again, many newly elected Labour MPs in 2015 may well owe a debt of gratitude.

The polling shows Labour advancing deep into Conservative held territory, with the very un-Labour sounding seats of Dorset South, Somerset North East and Chatham & Aylesford all returning to the Labour fold. Furthermore, a paltry 24% of respondents identified themselves as approving of the government’s record to date, whilst the same again said a Conservative government was their preferred outcome at the next general election.

Labour’s predicament is not as bad as that of the Conservatives in 1997 – for one thing, the party holds 258 seats, 93 more than the Tories’ apocalyptic total. But it does not follow that Labour will bounce straight back. From Jim Murphy’s warning of the rise of “Lazy Labour” – or the Toynbee tendency, depending on your rhetorical flourish – the party’s future depends on accepting why it lost, learning the right lessons, and making the necessary changes. From the research, the evidence shows any signs of doing so are at best mixed.


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