Ed Balls ‘should go’ for good of Labour says open letter


4:52 pm - February 20th 2013

by Newswire    


      Share on Tumblr

The political historian Anthony Seldon has written an open letter in the upcoming edition of the New Statesman heavily criticising shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

He says Balls should resign from the Labour front bench as it would help the Labour party win the next election.

After 20 unbroken years at the heart of politic… quitting in the next few months until, say, 2017 would undoubtedly benefit your leader, your party, your wife and even yourself. Let me explain.

Ed Miliband would be a much stronger leader without you… Forgive me, but you stop Ed breathing fresh air. With you close to him, his breath will always be stale and smell of a toxic brand.

Without a prolonged period out of the public eye, neither you nor the party will ever rid yourselves of the opportunistic, negative and bullying image of the Gordon era…

Without you, Labour could present itself as a clean party, free of the factionalism and brutalism that so tarnished it when Brown was boss and you were his consigliere…

The greatest beneficiary would be you… If Labour loses in 2015, you will be blamed and your career will be damaged beyond repair.

If it wins, you would return to the front bench in 2017 a redeemed and respected figure. You might even one day become leader, your long-held ambition.

He calls on Ed Balls to “fall on your sword”.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author

· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: News

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Seldon argues that “Without a prolonged period out of the public eye, neither you nor the party will ever rid yourselves of the opportunistic, negative and bullying image of the Gordon era.”

The Great British Public, according to Lord Ashcroft’s research:

“In focus groups, most people knew very little or nothing about either Osborne or Balls – though if anything knew more about Balls, remembering him as Education Secretary. Though some thought of Balls as a “bolshie” character, there was no recollection of him as a henchman for Gordon Brown or a participant in damaging battles with Tony Blair. Several noted that he seemed a lot more competent than Ed Miliband.”

I think this is a classic political bubble issue. As Don suggests the idea that the average public knows who Balls is, and there is even such a thing as a shadow chancellor is quaint. It would be amazing if 3 in 10 of the public managed to recognise the actual Chancellor of the Exchequer in the street. Without a leading question to prompt them it would be debatable whether even half the population knew that the last government was a Labour one. The sheer ignorance of the UK public on public affairs is known to all but the political obsessives and bubble dwellers.

He’s clearly right. And Ed Milliband knows this which is why he initially appointed Alan Johnson to be shadow Chancellor.

Reagrdless of whether you think Osborne has made the right general economic decisions or not even his biggest fan wouldn’t claim that he has an attractive public persona.

I’d suggest that if Labour had a middle aged, competent & reassuring person as shadow Chancellor (like Darling) they’d be 20-30 points ahead of the Tories on economic competence.

@Shinsel1997

Because having Alistair Darling as Chancellor was such a vote-winner in 2010..

There is no evidence, either in opinion polls (which currently show Labour up to FIFTEEN per cent ahead) or focus group research, to suggest Ed Balls’ influence is politically toxic.

Is this intervention designed to boost the Blairite wing of the Labour Party? If so, it fully deserves to be treated with contempt.

Speaking only from the perspective of my area, Labour need to do a lot more to win back votes than change their shadow chancellor, indeed, deckchairs and the Titanic spring to mind.

“Speaking only from the perspective of my area, Labour need to do a lot more to win back votes than change their shadow chancellor, indeed, deckchairs and the Titanic spring to mind.”

People in your area are stupid

Ultra_Fox

Labour are still polling below the Tories on economic competence. Which is the specific subject of this post.

Impossible to prove a counterfactual but I suspect Darling was the reason Labour didn’t do worse in 2010 and allow in a Tory overall majority.

And I’m not sure why you think this is a “Blairite wing” conspiracy. Ed M (no Blairite) was well aware of the problems with Ed Balls as shadow Chancellor which is why he initially appointed Alan Johnson (someone much less “technically” competent).

Unless Darling decides to return (and he seems busy enough saving Scotland from independence) I’m not sure who else Labour might make shadow chancellor. Chuka falls into Osborne’s problems of being too young and allowing 30 somethings the run of the UK financial system hasn’t been a great success.

the same anthony seldon who is a friend and supporter of blair? just be thankful your friend isn’t being tried for war crimes mr seldon.

9. Alexis ShelCrooke

All of New Labour should that includes Bryne, Purcell and the rest.

10. Sandra Crawford

Anthony Seldon is a Blairite that is, a Tory who wants Labour to be neoliberal so that they can carry on with the neoliberal agenda when in power.
This serves two purposes – it allows the Tories to blame Labour for all the inevitable failures of neoliberalism, the financial crises, boom and bust etc. But it keeps the wealth flowing to the top, and they can keep it going that way by using the crises to cut the poor even more.
The second purpose is to give the illusion of democracy.

If the right of the Labour Party want to get rid of Ed Balls – it might give us hope – perhaps he works for the people? If so, maybe him and his national investment bank might be good news – providing he does not get smeared too much.
I think he needs to be like the great Irving Fisher – who was criticised for his mistake in thinking that the stock market boom was a great thing before the wall street crash. In the great depression he learned that the banks caused it with too free a hand with creating the money supply light touch regulation caused an economic bubble- than he flipped completely and wrote the Chicago Plan which if implemented, would stop banks from creating money at all. People can learn. I hope he thinks of helicopter money.

Bryan Gould, who was a man of the people rather than the rich, claimed that he had these sort of problems, quoting from an article in the Independent –

“Gould’s book claims that Mandelson fed stories to the press to ensure the succession of those with Mandelson’s best interests at heart – Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This was part of the in-fighting which Gould says sickened him in the end”.

This quote came from:-

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/bryan-gould-shows-flashes-of-frustration-admitting-a-sneaking-regard-for-mrs-thatcher-he-says-i-could-have-done-better-than-i-did-1600512.html

11. Alisdair Cameron

Hard to think who’s worse, to be honest. Bullying blow-hard Balls, or slippery Blairite hagiographer and arch-bullshitter Seldon. Neither should have any prominence.

Perhaps it’s more interesting that Sheldon is quite nice towards Miliband…

One of my teachers is a close friend of Seldon’s, who used to work for him at Wellington told me that he is an oddity but also a really nice guy – so I doubt he is being spiteful. But on this he is sort of right, Ed Balls should not be Shadow Chancellor. People do not trust him because he is tainted with his association of Balls and to pretend the public do not realise this is stupid. I would not move Balls to the backbenches, because although that could help the party in the short term, it could damage the party in the long-term. I think because Ed Balls is very good on the issue of the European Union, he should become Shadow Foreign Secretary, so when Labour comes to power he could get one of the best jobs in government which most Cabinet ministers crave. That could make way for someone credible to become Shadow Chancellor, like Alistair Darling or David Miliband. But denying that Ed Balls could be a liability – which is what @1 and @4 seem to do, is mad. I am glad Labour is 15 points ahead, but we should be over 20 points and well ahead on the economy. We are not – partly because of Balls.

14. Phil Rackley

Frankly I feel that Labour, like other parties, has become obsessed with the cult of personality. It’s not the person but the policies that are important. The problem, it seems to me is same old, same old I.e. cuts but nicer, gentler, the orthodox approach to the economy rather than a radical socialist shift!

And still having supporters of the invasion of Iraq hanging around isn’t a problem?

The public may not know much about Balls now, but opponents will surely use his past activities against Labour during the next election campaign.

In my view, there are three key reasons for removing him:

1) His record on economic matters (when working for Brown).

2) His methods. Thuggish brutality is a bit passe isn’t it?

3) His factionalism. Milliband appears to be hoping that Balls is less dangerous inside the tent, but this won’t last.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting removing Ed Balls from the shadow cabinet. He’s obviously an able and impressive performer and there are plenty of other jobs he could do well. William Hague, arguably much better qualified than Osborne to be Chancellor, is the Foreign Secretary.

It’s just that Ed Balls is so clearly the wrong person for shadow Chancllor because not only is he (largely) complicit in any economic mistakes Labour made in 13 years but he will also be tarred with the “so why didn’t you do anything about this in 13 years ?” riposte when he tries to attack Tories over tax avoidance, banking regulation or crony capitalism.

So make Ed Balls shadow something else. It will also be good for Labour to have a non-Treasury front bench spokesman who can talk knowledgeably on financial matters on Question Time and the R4 Today programme.

Just seems a no-brainer to me.

If he’s made shadow-something-else, he’ll still be inside the tent pissing in.

The reality is that Balls is a deeply unpleasant and divisive figure, and simply not suitable for team games.

The comment at 17, ” “so why didn’t you do anything about this in 13 years ?”, is correct. Worse is the probable answer: “action should have been taken by my tribe rather than Blair’s, so discussion is verboten”).

“People do not trust him because he is tainted with his association of Balls and to pretend the public do not realise this is stupid…denying that Ed Balls could be a liability – which is what @1 and @4 seem to do, is mad.”

Rather than calling people who disagree with you ‘stupid’ and ‘mad’, why don’t you provide some evidence to support your views?

6

‘People in your area are stupid’

Yep, that’s what Labour appear to think, and the people in my are know this, that’s why they have lost so much support and there’s little chance of regaining same.

14

Agree, Labour don’t seem to have yet grasped that fact

@Sandra,

Although I would consider myself on the right of the party I suspect your supposition that Balls is on the left is undermined by his dog whistle remarks on immigration. He was also a poor minister. That said, Seldon’s letter is bizarre. Is this personal?

@15

You mean supporters of the Iraq War like Cameron and Osborne? Doesnt seem to have stopped Nick Clegg from working for them, and voting for them.

Balls. What is he good for? Neoliberal nothing. £120 billion in avoided tax and no comment. The ‘Mansion Tax’ debate is a side-show. A distraction. A displacement discussion! We want a real LEFT alternative! Liam Byrne should also be given the push. He told Labour conference in October that there would be yet more welfare cuts post 2015 under a so-called ‘Labour’ Government! What would be left to cut? How many sic and/or disabled people would have perished by then?

There is only ONE DIRECTION for the Labour Party to travel: LEFT

As a Scottish-based campaign we will fight you all the way and for a YES vote while YOU remain, yours truly, NEOLIBERAL!

John McArdle

for

Black Triangle
Anti-Defamation Campaign
In Defence of Disability Rights

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org
http://facebook.com/blacktriangle11
twitter @blactriangle1

Black Triangle? Is that some sort of splinter group from the Campaign for Traditional Pubes?

Anyway, we’re all missing the key point here. Does Balls inaccurately conflate the words “Jewish” and “Israeli”? Has he ever done so? If he does, what angle does he come from?

Let’s focus people.

@19 – “Rather than calling people who disagree with you ‘stupid’ and ‘mad’, why don’t you provide some evidence to support your views?”
I never called you ‘mad’ or ‘stupid’, I think you are a completely misinterpreting what I said. As for evidence, all the polls show that with David Miliband or Alistair Darling we would be higher when it comes to trust on the economy. When focus groups look at Ed Balls, they think about ‘Gordon Brown’. Ed Balls might be a very good economist, but he is tainted with his closeness to Gordon Brown and his initial unwillingness to accept that Labour needed to spell out what it would do to cut the deficit and that would mean some harsh spending cuts. If Balls stays in 2015 as Shadow Chancellor, the Tories will say: “Can you trust ‘Ed Balls’ with your money?”. Remember, Lynton Crosby is extremely personal when it comes to attacks. Why do you think so many Blairites and Milibandites want him out of his current position? Why do you think he was Ed Miliband’s fourth choice to be Shadow Chancellor?

The fact that Balls was third choice shadow chancellor says it all.Balls is toxic and is just a reminder of Brown.

Jack C
As a corporate conservative. Why do you want Balls to go.
Surely better to keep quiet and let Labour fuck up.

As a “corporate conservative”? Where did that come from?

Or are you just trolling again?

“all the polls show that with David Miliband or Alistair Darling we would be higher when it comes to trust on the economy”

Have you got an example of a poll which shows this?

“When focus groups look at Ed Balls, they think about ‘Gordon Brown’.”

Have you got an example of a focus group report which shows this?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Ed Balls should resign ‘for the good of Labour’ | Digital Politico

    [...] Liberal Conspiracy have posted an extract from an open letter by the historian Anthony Seldon, which calls on Ed Balls, to resign as Shadow Chancellor. [...]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.