Ed Balls: Tories – party of ‘privilege & the rich’

10:15 am - December 28th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    

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The Times has a curious interview with Ed Balls today, who says he won’t fight a ‘class war’ while simultaneously branding the Conservative party “the party of privilege and the rich”.

“David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s vulnerability is not their schools or their background but that they are prioritising tax cuts for the richest estates ahead of spending on the key public services,” he said.

“They have designed an inheritance tax policy which costs billions but which won’t benefit a single lower or middle-income family in Britain but will benefit themselves and a tiny percentage of other individuals.”

You can call it whatever you like, but accusing the Tories of being the party of the rich is playing ‘class war’.

Claiming it’s not is fine with me – as long as the narrative still plays out.

He also, rightly, accused the BBC of playing it easy with the Tories:

He accused the BBC of giving the Tories an easy time, suggesting that interviews conducted with Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, after the Pre-Budget Report had been soft. “It has been a bit back to the days of ‘What would you like to tell us today Lord Hailsham?’,” he said, urging the broadcaster to scrutinise the Tory policies on tax, spending and the economy.

The full interview is here.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

This is hypocrisy of the highest order from a pathetic slob who rapes, along with his wife, millions from the tax payer. Give me an Etonian any day.

2. Alisdair Cameron

Balls is vile, and he omits the easy ride New labour have had from the BBC on so many issues, from the war, to their advocacy of turbo-capitalism, to their betrayal of the the masses and the working classes, to their privatisation agenda, cosying up to oligarchs, plain incompetence,arrogance and appalling authoritarianism etc.Sunny, please cut back on the attempts to shore up the discredited shower of shits that are New labour, and show some principles. The Tories are repugnant, but the answer is not to back the discredited NewLab(aka ToryLite) clique.It’s a false dichotomy which you reinforce. Labour needs ridding of the disastrous entryists before it is worthy of anyone of the Left’s support.

Strange how class war is acceptable while race war (rightfully) isn’t. After all, those born with inherited wealth can’t help it anymore than those with inherited skin colour.

@3 bollocks, they could give it away.

Disgraceful behaviour by Balls.

Pointing out that Conservative policies would benefit only
the richest 10% is just not cricket. Labour should not point this out. They should ignore it and stoically hold their tongues and wait for Cameron to become Prime Minister to put the poor back in their rightful places as the scum that they truly are.

Balls should hang his head in shame.

I agree that the new strategy, of targeting the Tories for aiming at helping the rich get richer (whilst torturing wild animals for fun) is a good one, and that it’s working with the public.

My quibble is just with calling that strategy ‘class war’. That term implies *unfairly* bashing people over their background, for reasons of inverse snobbery. Shamefully, the media, on both the left and right, has decided that, as part of its pandering to Cameron, it is going to portray Labour as engaged in a class war in this sense, and as fighting dirty whenever it engages in reasonable criticism of regressive Tory tax policies or the Tory war on wildlife. It is important not to feed the narrative that Labour, in its desperation, is fighting a below the belt class war. That narrative has been cooked up in order to discredit some genuinely powerful criticism of the Tories. So I think it is a mistake, for that reason, to be crowing about the merits of class warfare.


It is certainly interesting that keeping the balance of taxation between rich and poor the same is “class war” but changing it to the benefit of the richest 50,000 is not.

I always thought a war was started by someone trying to change something anyway.

“@3 bollocks, they could give it away.”

Something which the 99% of the country who aren’t communists wouldn’t consider a realistic possibility.

@8, but the point is, they *could*. The fact that they choose not to highlights that they’re still better off than everyone else, through no merit of their own.

@9 but John, whoever they give it away to has suddenly got a great windfall through no merit of their own.

And what of someone who gives up their own time to look after elderly parents in their own home? Do they not merit the inheritance then, seeing as they were the only person who has done anything to ‘merit’ that money?

It’s not always as simple as ‘kid with rich parents inherits vast fortune without lifting a finger’.

The Tories are the party of the rich and the privileged.

What is it otherwise…?

Does anyone have proof of a large number of working class people in the Tory party?


They certainly do get working-class votes.

25% of those in social classes D and E And 33% in C2 voted Tory in 2005 (versus 48% and 40% respectively for Labour)


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Ed Balls: Tories – party of 'privilege & the rich' http://bit.ly/6NHybt

  2. Liberal Conspiracy » Labour’s need for a Class War strategy explained

    […] I’m using the term as short-hand. Ed Balls (who I’m not a big fan of) had it right when he dismissed ‘class war’ and then went on to paint the Tories as for the privileged and the few. That works fine as a narrative. As I […]

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