Comment: Ed Balls should not fall on his sword

Historian Anthony Seldon has called for Ed Balls to 'fall on his sword' for the good of the Labour Party. On the contrary, Balls is a political powerhouse who has been proven correct about austerity.

In an open letter to the shadow chancellor, historian Anthony Seldon has called on Ed Balls to ‘fall on his sword’ for the good of his party’s electability.

According to Seldon, dropping Balls from front line politics would help Labour lose its tax and spend image.

But I would humbly suggest that while Seldon is adept at analysing history, he is not so good at looking at the present.

Austerity is not working.

Keynesian economists warned from the start that the neoliberal Tory programme of cutting public services for the nation’s poorest while cutting taxes for its richest would only entrench the crisis and the misery it has brought.

With last month’s revelation that the economy shrunk by 0.3% in the final quarter of 2012, making a triple dip recession a dangerous probability, they have been proved right.

The effect is Labour’s biggest poll lead over the Conservatives in almost a decade. Clearly it is not the ghost of Labour’s tax and spend roots that is putting off voters, but the Tories’ far more reckless and toxic project of slash and burn.

Balls is an asset to Ed Miliband in a time of failing austerity.

With wages stagnating and the cost of living increasing, his call for a temporary VAT cut is exactly the stimulus the economy needs and will put spending money back in the pockets of the poor who are always worst affected by this regressive tax.

With inequality soaring, headline grabbing redistributive measures such as restoring the 10p tax bracket funded by a mansion tax are electoral gold dust.

With the Tories’ deeply unfair ‘bedroom tax’ poised to become their poll tax moment, Balls’ dogged opposition  is just what frightened working class voters need to hear.

With the public up in arms about the world’s largest multinational corporations dodging taxes in the UK, Balls’ calls for transparency in the financial system are tapped into our time.

With an urgent need to kick-start the economy, create jobs and provide affordable housing, Balls’ desire to build 100,000 new homes provides an answer.

Ed Balls does not have all the answers. He could be bolder in promoting a more radical Labour economic plan that provides a true ideological alternative to Tory austerity. But his ideas are a necessary start.

In the end it will be history, not historians like Seldon, which judges Balls’ ability to come up with a plan to steer Britain out of economic catastrophe.

But to suggest he fall on his sword now when his ideas are so vital for the country’s poor is madness.

8 Responses to “Comment: Ed Balls should not fall on his sword”

  1. SimonD

    The problem is that for most of us Ed Balls proposals are barely distinguishable from the Tories. If Ed shouldn’t fall on his own sword, who’s sword should finish him off?

  2. Duncan Moore

    I’m someone who broadly opposes the Conservatives, would seriously consider voting Labour but isn’t a Labour loyalist. Regardless of his ideas, Balls’ demeanour and perceived tribalism is a big put off. He’s got better recently but the idea of Balls at number 11 is a good reason to not vote Labour.

    Fortunately for the red team, the blues have a greater liability in Osbourne and the yellows seem to be going to great lengths to not get my vote in 2015. Still, you can’t rely on your rivals’ flaws. Labour would benefit from Balls being in the background, Balls would benefit from some time to reinvent himself.

  3. Robbie Scott

    I think Ed balls is a fantastic asset to the country but the fact remains that the public particularly middle Englanders do not like him. There is nothing wrong with his performance in the Commons or in the media and i think he’s made a real effort to soften his image but come 2015 he will be a major liability in a campaign. Unfortunately it’s not just about the message the messenger is also very important.

  4. Hugh Raynor

    Ed balls gets me super horny, i wank everyday over him. BUCKETLOADS.

  5. Adam Sullivan

    Me too, I love his girth. I bet he’s super hairy.

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