Balls mocks “Panglossian” Osborne over Bullingdon, growth and Boris

Ed Balls took aim at George Osborne during a raucous, six-hour debate on the economy in Parliament yesterday, reports Shamik Das.


Ed Balls took aim at George Osborne during a raucous, six-hour debate on the economy yesterday, dismissing his economic strategy, imploring him to change course, and needling him over his “discreet steps towards the Tory leadership”.

Following a sedate Treasury Questions earlier in the afternoon, the chancellor and his shadow slugged it over the autumn statement, growth figures, unemployment figures, inflation, the eurozone crisis…

Among the highlights was Balls’s breaking off from the wonkery to quote an Osborne ally talking about his cunning plan for the Tory leadership:

“‘George has started taking discreet steps towards the Tory leadership, members of the 2010 intake of MPs are invited to discreet drinks at Number 11, the favourites are invited to bibulous soirees at Dorneywood…’

“‘Nobody in the Osborne circle is vulgar enough to talk openly about his leadership ambitions. George has no agenda, I’ve never heard any talk of a timetable,’ said an ally, ‘but the unspoken assumption is that the party would be a lot safer in George’s hands than with bonking Boris!’

Followed by a glimpse into the chancellor’s Bullingdon past:

“Let me give you another one from one of the Osborne allies: ‘They were a bit sniffy about George, the Bullingdon is basically for Etonians, but they let him in even though he went to St Paul’s, though they did insist on him reverting to his original name of Gideon.’

Watch it:

At the end of his 35-minute speech, Balls recited an article from the Telegraph – containing a rather apt analogy:

“We read in the Telegraph today about the chancellor’s recent efforts to land a plane at Manchester Airport. On a flight simulator I should add… Too rapid a descent, a crash landing on the runway, narrowly missing ploughing into the terminal building, too far, too fast, Mr Deputy Speaker, no surprises then.

“But the chancellor had a second go. With a little help from the experts, a steadier hand on the controls, things worked better second time round, perhaps there’s a lesson for the chancellor in that story, perhaps he should take my prescription after all, Mr Speaker.”

He then quoted Krugman’s devastating attack on Osborne – in which the Nobel Laureate called the chancellor to “a medieval doctor bleeding his patient, observing that the patient is getting sicker, not better, and deciding that this calls for even more bleeding” – before echoing the FT and his deputy Rachel Reeves in comparing him to Dr Pangloss.

Balls concluded:

“The worse things get in the rest of the world, the better for Britain, because we are the only safe haven of prosperity.

“In this chancellor’s Panglossian world, everything is working out just fine, Mr Deputy Speaker, but in the real world, in the real world, with the world economy darkening, with the UK now forecast to endure stagnant growth and rising unemployment this year, next year and the year after, this Panglossian chancellor is making a catastrophic error of judgement, refusing to learn the lessons of history, refusing to even understand the lessons of economics, refusing to shift to a more balanced plan, he got it wrong 18 months ago, he is getting it so, so badly wrong today, out of his depth, out of touch, isn’t it time he changed course before it is too late, Mister Deputy Speaker.”

Watch it:

At the end of the night, Labour won the division (which was actually about whether enough time had been allocated to debating the economy) 213-79, meaning, in theory, that there’s more economy debates to look forward to in the New Year – assuming Osborne can take it.

See also:

Krugman: Coalition is “bleeding” Britain dryAlex Hern, December 1st 2011

Commons to vote today on Labour’s five-point plan for jobsShamik Das, October 12th 2011

Balls’s speech gives Labour a solid economic foundationCormac Hollingsworth, September 26th 2011

Balls and Osborne clash in first Commons duelShamik Das, February 8th 2011

Osborne’s optimism looking less and less plausibleRachel Reeves MP, January 25th 2011

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19 Responses to “Balls mocks “Panglossian” Osborne over Bullingdon, growth and Boris”

  1. Political Planet

    Balls mocks “Panglossian” Osborne over Bullingdon, growth and Boris: Ed Balls took aim at George Osborne during …

  2. Michael J. Robins

    Review of the debate in @leftfootfwd: 'In this chancellor’s Panglossian world, everything is working out just fine.'

  3. Nick Hider

    RT @leftfootfwd: Balls mocks “Panglossian” Osborne over Bullingdon, growth and Boris

  4. Richard

    “The lessons of history”? That’s rich, coming from Labour.

    I still remember the Winter of Discontent, the total failure of left-wing state control and high public spending. And now we see the legacy of this being played out again.

    You know, I can’t help being reminded of 1981 and how Labour would lecture Thatcher on how wrong she was on economic policy, and how the whole country was going to the dogs. I wonder what would have happened had Labour won in 1983. Would we have seen Red Robbo and Arthur Scargill invited along to Downing Street for a cosy chat with Michael Foot to finalise incomes policies? You bet we would. And I wonder where we’d be today if that had happened.

    The Left, for all it’s high-minded ideals, wants to control lives, and it wants to do that by spending money. Your money. And lots of it. Until there’s none left. Among the things it loves to spend money on are:

    1. public sector IT infrastructure schemes that are not properly thought out and don’t work.

    2. VAT repayments to carousel fraud traders. Billions paid out. Never properly tackled.

    3. Grants to community schemes, without checking where the money was going, or ever asking to see accounts. Millions embezzled.

    4. Overseas aid to corrupt countries that ends up spent on gold-plated toilet seats and personal jets for their leaders.

    5. Heath-walks facilitators and twitter-tsars -the civil service that keeps getting bigger and bigger.

    6. Laws. Lots of them. More and more laws. On everything.

    7. Wars that are nothing to do with this country and no-one wanted.

    “Build me a path from cradle to grave” sang Billy Bragg. Well Billy, people don’t want a path built for them, they want to make their own way in their life. And they want to do it without handing over vast sums in tax to be squandered as well.

  5. bob woods

    #etonrifles get another beating! RT @leftfootfwd: Balls mocks “Panglossian” Osborne over Bullingdon, growth and Boris

Comments are closed.