Coffee House

Ed Balls puts off public spending decisions until after the 2015 election

28 September 2012

The announcement by Ed Balls today that Labour would conduct a zero-based spending review is a cute piece of political positioning by the shadow Chancellor. It allows him to sound tough—we’ll look at every piece of public spending and see if it delivers value for money, and is an olive branch to those Blairites who still moan about how the Brown Treasury blocked this idea when Labour were in power.

But the weakness with it is that it puts off these decisions until after the next election. Based on conversations with various Tories this morning, they are confident that this will make it easier for them to portray Labour as being incapable of making tough decisions on spending. I suspect we’ll hear plenty more of the analogies that Tim Montgomerie came out with this morning.

The Guardian interview is also noteworthy for the continuing effort to soften Balls’ image. Balls recalls in heart-warming / cringe—making (delete as appropriate) style how just as he was about to go in to his Grade 1 piano exam, Miliband’s office called requesting his presence at a press conference on the banks. Balls managed to get excused from that, before going on to scrape through the exam which he says was ‘so much more frightening than the House of Commons.’

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Show comments
  • TomTom

    Ed Balls is nothing but a Larry Summers stooge. He knows little Economics but was able to advise a total dunderhead. Balls has no experience of real life or economic life and is simply an overqualified schoolboy

    • Amergin Selby

      Balls graduated from University with a first in PPE ahead of Cameron, by the way,, he then did two years as a Kennedy student studying economics at Harvard. I think he knows a little more than you credit him in doing.
      Osborne has 2:1 in modern History and some time folding towels. You understand now why all balls predictions have been proven right and all Osborne’s proven wrong.

      • Dimoto

        Yes, real shame that when actually tested in the real world, he was an epic fail.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    Let us hope he puts off borrowing decisions for a lot longer…

  • Iain Hill

    Grade 1 is for 5 year olds!

  • ButcombeMan

    I LOL’d at the word “cute”.
    It is appallingly stupid and makes him an open goal.

    He of all people, as part of the previous Treasury team, has absolutely no need to wait for 2015, even toTHINK of doing that is to treat the electorate with utter contempt.

    He should go into a room with Liam Byrne (“we have spent all the money”) and not come out until they have come up with a credible plan to manage the economy far better than they did last time.

    Furhermore, if Millipede Minor had any balls he would make sure that Balls and Byrne do that.

    Millipede has none, so he won’t.

    What a mess Balls is.

  • HooksLaw

    So Labour went into the last election without a spending review and will go in to the next election without a spending review. Does anybody think they can control spending? Labour used the, ‘we’ll look at every piece of public spending and see if it delivers value for money’ line ad nauseum before the last election and it was meaningless then.

    In any event how come Balls can say he will look at every item of spending for savings or ‘efficiencies’ when he is already accusing the Tories of cutting spending too much.
    By Balls’ own accusations against the government his policies MUST involve more spending. Where will the money come from?

    • Amergin Selby

      You have to accept that until the election is won and they take power they cannot know the real condition of the economy and so no real and meaningful review can be made only guessed at.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    What this?

    “NO BALLS” Balls?
    “Bottler” Balls
    “Spineless” Balls
    “Trust Me (I’m A Politician) Even Though I won’t Tell You what It is I intend to do” Balls.(yeah right).

    Public Spending is the most critical issue for this and the next several governments. If a party refuses to come clean and prevaricates and equicvocates over public spending then it is NOT FIT TO GOVERN! So surprise surprise Balls proves well before the election that Labour are not fit to govern.

  • michael

    So, is this Ed the ‘hear all see all say nowt – eat all drink all pay nowt’ MP, unwittingly reaffirming his addiction to living from the fruits of other peoples money.

  • Douglas Carter

    So that’s Labour going into the election without any identifiable credible policies, and the LibDems going into the election without any identifiable credible policies.
    What’s the betting the Conservatives will follow suit?

    • Coffeehousewall

      Identifiable, credible policies are not required in Westminster. Essentially the political class (I hate using the words political and class in the same phrase) is sticking two fingers up at us and saying, “What are you going to do?”.

      If we don’t take revolutionary action and initiate our own English Spring, excluding the political influence of those who are not British and who hate Britain, then in the end it will be to our loss. But are there any who can and will lead such a revolution?

  • Moriarty

    Anyone would think Balls wanted Miliband to lose the 2015 election. Can’t think why.
    That said, despite the fact that he’s an opportunistic, vicious, scabrous, morally void, mendacious piece of crap I wouldn’t mind having a pint with him. Bet he’s interesting company.

    • telemachus

      Your second# goes to why this charismatic genius is a success
      There are some giants with whom we are fortunate to share our times
      Folks in the 30’s gave epithets similar to your description about Churchill

      • Glurk

        Most of us can tell when our bills are increasing, even those of us vote ‘on our personal feel good factor’ and if someone want us to support them while they write a mandate to spend as they wish, then, sheep as we are, I think its unlikely that an electorate of any colour will swallow that one. Think again Balls

    • Noa

      And I bet you’d end up paying for the round!

    • Amergin Selby

      Your comments hardly qualify as reasoned debate.

  • Chris lancashire

    This is “a cute piece of political positioning”? No it’s not, even the Great British Public isn’t that gullible. It’s a refusal to face reality, dodges all the issues and weakens Labour’s economic credentials even more (if that’s possible).

    • hexton

      If you read ‘cute….positioning’ as ‘crude…posturing’, however…

  • Keith

    Interesting that Balls doesn’t think he needs to come up with anything tangible to win the election. i guess he can always change his mind about that if necessary.

  • anyfool

    His only reason for taking this option is that, he will not have to lie before the next election, also he has seen what it has done to Clegg and it will not do to have the next Labour leader married to a liar?

  • james102

    A sneak review of Ball’s real policy:

    Bank of England buys gilts issued by the Debt Management Office
    to finance public spending.

    Inflation roars (food prices in Britain have increased by 32% since 2007
    —double EU average)food prices predicted to rise by 4% a year until 2022.Average
    family will be paying £4k a year on food within a decade.

    Now about that Wealth Tax…

    • telemachus

      “cute piece of political positioning by the shadow Chancellor”

      The man is a charismatic genius.

      He has the Coalition just where he wants them.

      They are reduced to the “muttering idiot” level


      “make it easier for them to portray Labour as being incapable of
      making tough decisions on spending”

      Ed has established his credibility and ability to stand up to Labour has

      He has also demonstrated his economic credibility and abilty to mould
      the Treasury

      I know he will make mincemeat of the Brussels folk

      He is a bruiser and a winner

      • james102

        Only us Coffee House types know or care.

        The majority of the electorate hardly know who Balls,
        Osborne or Miliband are and will vote for or against the government of the day
        on their personal Feel Good (or Bad) factor.

        That is why immigration, crime and high profile court cases
        are so important.

        If Spain and/or Greece implodes Ukip will get more support,
        which will harm the Conservative party although Labour has to be careful of not
        seeming too pro-EU as what remains of their core supporters in the manual
        working class are anti- EU on the grounds they are competing for housing,
        school places for their children and jobs with continental Europeans as well as
        Africans, Asians, South Americans…

        • telemachus

          Yes but what joy it gives us Coffee-Houser types
          It is a privelege to live in such interesting times

          • james102

            The old Chinese curse.

            We are lucky to live in times where we are only concerned
            about how many luxury goods someone can afford in order to access Relative Poverty.
            Our ancestors were concerned about survival at a much more basic level ,like
            whether they would survive a war and still have a family to return to.

            To some extent it is a blip and our grandchildren will not
            be so fortunate.

            • telemachus

              Only if we are supine and let it happen

              • james102

                Is there any doubt?

                • james102

                  How long do you think our credit rating would last under Labour?
                  By 2015 the Eurozone will be in chaos and our credit rating will be slipping

                • Amergin Selby

                  According to latest news our credit rating is already under pressure and may not survive much longer.

            • telemachus

              Only if we are supine and let it happen

            • Sarge

              Quite right. Our kids will be paying for Gordon and Ed’s past and future overspending. Should a country be lead by debt junkies?

              A clue re-arrange this phrase ‘life your not on, Shut the door on your way out.

        • Macky Dee

          oh, so you are one of “the few” that actually know what you’re on about – actually, you are just trying to give that impression cuz you dont know sh*t hehe

      • HooksLaw

        You should be topping the bill at the Palladium.

        • Coffeehousewall

          You mean hanging from the top of the Palladium

        • Coffeehousewall

          You mean hanging from the top of the Palladium

      • Macky Dee

        Atleast you can suck his balls til 2015 (unless of course, you really are Ed Balls himself) haha

      • Noa

        Ah Telly.
        I was out in the garden before, feeding the birds.

        And for dome inexplicable reason, as I hung up the fat balls on a rope, I thought of you…

        • telemachus

          What joy I and all my colleagues will bring to you all
          I take you back to yesterday’s theme of Jacobin Radicalism which moulded the Milibands, Ed Balls adds to this the intellectual framework of economic credibility

          • Noa

            Jacobin radicalism eh?

            Indeed, as a bankrupt southern Europe burns its imposed EU Commissars, Englishmen will recollect that Parliamentary democracy was first established here and in Europe, and through force of arms.

            And bloody as it was, it was achieved through a revolution of the Right, not of the Left.

          • Nicholas

            “The seeds of socialism were deeply planted in the cataclysmic events of the French Revolution by the Jacobin government’s radical policies aimed at rapidly changing political-economic-social conditions. Overtly, these guerilla revolutionaries sought to implement an improved social system by usurping control of state power. Despite their original democratic intentions their modus operandi began leaning more toward authoritaranism. Universal male suffrage was instituted but later repealed, and the experience or political taste of mass democracy motivated radicals to zealously campaign for broader voting rights. Jacobin socialist policies even extended into economic reforms with the forceful seizure of aristocratic properties which were distributed to peasants in an effort to bolster equitable land ownership. Their methods were radical redefinitions of classical liberalism and forged an interventionist, active government model for future socialist revolutionaries.

            Jacobin politics and philosophy became misguided by avarice and the dictatorial by-any-means-necessary methodology of its coercive center. Although they were influential in regaining and restributing wealth, land, food, and social class, the Jacobins could not sustain their brutal idealism as anarchists, resisting fiscal responsibility and embracing political terrorism. I view Jacobin radicalism as an early form of utopian socialism. They fed on the fear and ignorance of the people, strayed from stable democratic principles, and bankrupted a national economy. Their objectives could not be entirely met due to the rampant, wanton violence at the height of their influence, contributing significantly to the erosion of Jacobin legitimacy.”

            • telemachus

              Thankyou Nicholas
              The analysis in your first paragraph and the ends noted are why we all should now embrace this return to our core raison d’etre as a modern society.
              We were moving well in this direction until selfish avarice held sway in the miserable administrations of three decades ago
              You yourself recognise the distortion in laudable goals of a sound philosophy in your second paragraph “misguided by..”
              We do not feed on fear and ignorance but the inate desire of the human soul as opposed to the wolf pack to protect the weak among us and ensure fairness in the holistic totality of life.
              We do need strong will to prevail against those misguided by avarice and yes sometimes the journey may not be pretty.
              However the final move from serfdom and feudalism started long ago in France and driven forward by the failed Russian experiment will reach its inevitable conclusion
              Your Social Darwinism sadly leads to progressive loss of respect of the sanctity of human life, which in itself destroys self worth and ultimately society itself

              • telemachus

                PS you should read Maverick214’s full essay which is a good analysis of just what is wrong in our selfish society and as a corollary why we should all now aspire to promote a reasonable, compassionate and fair society.

              • Amergin Selby

                “They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
                Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
                They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
                They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
                And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,

                Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.

                We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,

                Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.

                It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
                Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.

                It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest

                God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.

                But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
                Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget..
                G.K. CHESTERTON
                last two stanzas of ‘The Secret People.’ . The whole poem is worth reading.’

            • ButcombeMan

              Jacobin Radicalism: a Utopian Socialism Experiment. (2005, November 06). Retrieved from

              • telemachus

                Yes, I agree a plagiarist
                This is the Maverick.214 I mention below

                • Noa

                  What plagiarism? Nicholas never claimed it as his own.
                  That’s what the inverted commas do you see. They show it’s a quotation.

        • telemachus

          What joy I and all my colleagues will bring to you all
          I take you back to yesterday’s theme of Jacobin Radicalism which moulded the Milibands, Ed Balls adds to this the intellectual framework of economic credibility

      • Dimoto

        It won’t be very nice mincemeat if he keeps bruising it.
        Who are the “has beens” ? Do tell.

      • Sarge

        Oh gawd,what do they put in your cocoa? It needs to be banned.

    • Dimoto

      I see you have been reading the Mail again.
      Do you think the hefty (one off) fall in Sterling against the Dollar might have had something to do with that ?

    • roger

      If Britain made farming and domestic food production a priority inflation would be under local control, not decided on an FX market.
      The government has lost sight of the fundementals, defence, law, food and housing but f*rt around with political correct nonsense. This islands story will not turn out well unless there is a complete political ‘revolution’ of ideas.

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