Balls and Osborne clash in first Commons duel

Ed Balls and George Osborne went head-to-head across the despatch box at Treasury Questions for the first time today, reports Shamik Das.

Ed Balls and George Osborne went head-to-head across the despatch box at Treasury Questions for the first time today. The new shadow chancellor quizzed Mr Osborne over the poor growth figures and the government’s lack of a Plan B, with the chancellor hitting back by calling Mr Balls a “deficit denier”.

Mr Balls questioned why the snow was to blame for the poor economic figures, while in the US, which had also been hit by the weather:

“…the pace of US economic growth increased, consumer confidence was high, and unemployment fell to a two-year low. Could the chancellor tell the House, is there something different about snow in Britain, or is there a better explanation as to why the American economy grew and Britain’s economy did not?”


“…perhaps the chancellor should have spent less time on the ski slopes of Switzerland and more time in the conference halls of Davos, listening to the American Treasury Secretary. Let me tell you what he said: he said you’ve got to make sure you don’t hurt the recovery, there are some people who like to move very quickly, to do very deep cuts in spending, but that is not the responsible way to do it…

“In June, unemployment was falling, growth was forecast to be 2.3 per cent this year, now unemployment is rising and growth has stalled. Can the chancellor tell the House, with consumer confidence falling, inflation rising, with no bank lending agreement, no plan for jobs, no plan for growth, no plan B…

“Does he really expect us to believe he can meet his forecast for economic growth this year, or will he have to stand here at the Budget in six weeks’ time and downgrade his very first growth forecast?”

Watch it:

Later in the session, shadow Treasury minister David Hanson said the investment of the Labour government had “supported jobs” and that the governent’s growth strategy was “missing”, to which Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander insisted:

“I don’t apologise at all; they maxed out the credit card, we have to pay it off.”

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22 Responses to “Balls and Osborne clash in first Commons duel”

  1. Geoff Walker

    RT @leftfootfwd: . @EdBallsMP and Osborne clash in first Commons duel: – ft. video

  2. Shamik Das

    VIDEO —> RT @leftfootfwd: @EdBallsMP and Mr Osborne clash in first Commons duel:

  3. Gavin Duff

    RT @leftfootfwd: . @EdBallsMP and Osborne clash in first Commons duel: – ft. video

  4. Stephen W

    Balls was the architect of the boom and then the bust. He has zero credibility on any of these issues.

  5. Liz McShane

    Stephen – it seems that the global economic crisis may have escaped your attention.

    Ed Balls know his macro-economics, whereas Osborne can just about understand the mechanics of his piggy bank works.

    I would strongly suggest you read/listen to the speech Ed Balls gave to Bloomberg last August which shows a masterful analysis of global, macro economics .

    I have attached the link to save you time:

    It’s only a matter of time before Osborne and his myopic economics are mince meat.

  6. Jack

    Thought Balls did okay, but that’s all. He allowed Osborne to land far too many blows. Give him time to find his feet and he could be decent. Like all of the Labour Party he needs to develops a clear line of argument and develop a real connection with the voters.

  7. Steve

    It’s about time the people on the right grew up and became more intelligant about how this crises really happened. If they don’t it sure will happen again. The Tories are bank crises deniers.

  8. Mark Stevo

    Balls needs to be careful on pressing home too much on the Q4 performance. All the indications are that the Q1 performance is going to be pretty strong (albeit with 2/3 of the quarter to follow).

  9. Stephen W

    ” it seems that the global economic crisis may have escaped your attention.”

    Oh boo, hoo. A global economic crisis that Britain as one of the largest financial sectors was a major contributory to. It’s pathetic to watch labour drones trying to pretend the recession and the deficit was nothing to do with them. Being in government means the buck stops with you. Building a useless regulatory system, encouraging a housing boom, taking no measures to prepare for the possibility of things going wrong and doing everything you can to avoid taking responsibility all while declaring “an end to boom and bust” makes you responsible. Balls and the whole Labour should grow-up and man-up and take some responsibility for their 13 years in government.

  10. Jon H

    RT @leftfootfwd: . @EdBallsMP and Osborne clash in first Commons duel: – ft. video

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  12. william

    Stephen W is absolutely correct.Come 2015, it is implausible to think the electorate will suddenly fall in love with the sidekicks to the man that wrecked the economy.

  13. Debsalini

    William, looking at the polls now, it looks like the electorate are already out of love with the architects of their own impending impoverishment, and quite a bit in love with Labour. I guess Osborne (if he makes it to the next GE as chancellor, which I doubt) will have to make big cuts to income tax to achieve an election win.

  14. pat roche

    and meanwhile, due to the savage mean and nasty cuts, those who are affected are sinking in the mire created by clegg and cameron et al. If you look at the liberal democrat voice you will see that they never mention this. They are too busy attacking labour. I lived through the times of Thatcher, and these times are far worse, but at least there were not power hungry liberal democrats propping up every cut and endevouring to exceed them. Remember that neither party won. I was in parliament last week and saw Clegg arogantly parading through with his entourage, probably rushing to see ‘call me Dave’. Remember that all political careers end in failure. What will be the wreckage left for the people of this country due to the savage Pickles, who has been let loose to savage the libraries, childrens centres, bus services and education, not to mention older and disabled people. I could weep for the waste.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Balls came across as shrill and incomprehensible. No wonder Ed Miliband didn’t originally put him in this post. Nice try but he makes Osborne look calm and credible.

    Liz how do you explain the fact Brown never balanced the budget from 2001 onwards or the structural deficit?

    You’re too intelligent to buy into the “It’s all the big bad bankers fault – global crisis nonsense”. Brown said we would lead the G20 out of recession first. Prior to the last election how did he do?

    Labour need to start admitting where they went wrong because we know they screwed the economy up. And they know we know and are trying to treat us like fools….

  16. Mr. Sensible

    Must have been the wrong type of snow I suppose…

  17. Anon E Mouse

    pat roche – How the councils implement these cuts is up to them. Since when did the government have the capacity to close local libraries?

    When the boss of Liverpool council gets £250K a year the ratepayers in Liverpool will turn against them. Neil Kinnock was right and Labour hasn’t learned a thing in decades.

    This is worth watching every time the BBC comes up with another cuts story (yawn):

    The union dinosaurs will be on strike. The public will support the government. Labour will be linked to the unions. Everyone will remember the Winter of Discontent and Labour, under the weak leadership of the useless Ed Miliband will crash in the polls.

    Until Labour stops lying about the state they left the economy in, no one will take them seriously…

  18. We need a holistic approach to the climate, food and economic crises | Left Foot Forward

    […] the spines of HM Treasury’s finest. After all, this is a government found hopelessly eager to blame snow for a contraction in GDP, rather than an ill-judged and over-zealous economic […]

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