Political Promise

Balls of Steel: Labour’s Lethal Weapon

In Andrew Forsey on October 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Misguided Labour supporter Andrew Forsey advocates Balls as the natural choice for Shadow Chancellor.

So, as Conference season draws to a close and battle lines are drawn in preparation for the unveiling of George Osborne’s spending review later this month, the appointment of Shadow Chancellor takes on huge significance for Labour, as the party reaches its first major crossroads, perhaps even ‘Spaghetti junction’, under the stewardship of Ed Miliband. It is in the coming weeks and months that Labour needs to wheel out the heavy artillery to capitalise on its recent surge in the polls, and engage with the coalition over the most pressing, far-reaching issue likely to face this parliament: the economy; and that artillery doesn’t come much heavier than Ed Balls.

Critics may argue that this weight consists of an unfortunate amount of baggage accumulated by Balls during the era of ‘TB-GBs’, yet if Labour is to regain power in May 2015, it surely needs to utilise its most heavyweight performer to overturn the popular consensus that has gripped the economic debate. A consensus reached and maintained despite recent warnings from across the Irish Sea, as well as our own historical lessons from the 1930s, 1950s and 1980s. Balls repeatedly demonstrated throughout the summer-long leadership campaign, most notably in the speech to Bloomberg in August, that he possesses the combination of economic nous and the necessary substance to frame and win a debate…just ask the previously untouchable Michael Gove. As cuts begin to impact on people’s livelihoods throughout the next 18 months, Labour will need to grab the initiative from the coalition, and present themselves as the credible alternative with a more balanced approach to deficit reduction, which Balls has strongly advocated.

Indeed, Balls’ summer activities won praise from Ken to Boris, from the New Statesman to The Economist, and from leading economists David Blanchflower and Paul Krugman. Potentially, Balls can provide the perfect foil to the more ‘liberal, metropolitan’ appeal of Miliband, as Balls appears to speak the same language as the more traditional sources of Labour support, particularly in the North of England where he somehow held on to Morley & Outwood in May. His eagerness throughout the summer to reflect upon issues such as affordable housing and immigration would indicate an awareness of, and willingness to act upon, the issues more prevalent in Labour ‘heartlands’.

The Murdoch press would undoubtedly relish the prospect of vilifying two ‘Red-Eds’ at the heart of Labour. Yet Balls and Miliband, given a greater degree of exposure and experience, may emerge as the credible alternative to Osborne and Cameron, as they possess the genuine potential to reshape the coveted centre ground of the economic argument; an argument which needs to be won if Labour wants to govern sooner rather than later.  Therefore, I would strongly urge Ed Miliband to unleash the man that the Tories are most fearful of. Balls v Osborne? Bring it on!

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