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Labour conference: The Ed Balls two-step

1 October 2012

Ed Balls’ speech was a wide-ranging affair. It started with a tribute to the Olympics and Tessa Jowell’s role in securing them, a make-nice gesture given how badly those two have got on over the years. It ended with a paean of praise to the Labour spirit of 1945. In between, it included attacks on the Liberal Democrats as the ‘same old Tories’ — Balls’ response to Sunday newspaper reports that they won’t work with him.

On the economy, the Ed Balls two-step was much in evidence. He promised to spend money now, saying he’d put the as yet unknown proceeds from sale of the 4G spectrum into house-building. But to be austere later, reiterating that he couldn’t commit to reversing particular tax rises or spending cuts and that all the proceeds of the sale of the state’s bank shares would go to paying down the national debt. The later commitments are far more significant as they would actually affect what a post-2015 Labour government would do.

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Balls is a vastly improved platform speaker and the speech continued his attempt to refashion his image. So, there were a lot of warm words for the need for long-term, cross party work on infrastructure to combat the perception of him as a short-termist political bull-dog. He matched George Osborne’s recruitment of the chief executive of the London Organising Committee Paul Deighton by announcing that the chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority Sir John Armitt would lead an infrastructure review. He also chose to attack David Cameron for his attitude to women and an overly macho approach to politics.

In a breathtaking piece of chutzpah, Balls claimed that the government’s internal battles were distracting it from sound p0licy making. One would be intrigued to know what those who were at Number 10 when Balls was working for Gordon Brown in Number 11 would make of Balls saying this.

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Show comments
  • Fergus Pickering

    Naw, it’s quiet because this conference stuff is boring.

  • Nicholas

    Quiet here today. All the lefty trolls (and even the ones who pretend to be centre ground and conservative) must be busy “in conference” (yuk!). Just goes to show where the Spectator’s new fan base lies.

    • George_Arseborne

      Check out Lord Arshcroft blog about the desperate poster. He makes a lot of sense not empty vessel troller like you Nicholas . Comment on substance if you are real.

      • Nicholas

        Hey George, how’s the trolling for make cultural learnings of England for make benefit glorious party of Labour going?

        • Sweetpea

          Wow, Nicholas! Edwin Starr yesterday; Borat today – you really are on a mission to prove satire is dead.

  • McRobbie

    Sounds typical balls with his car salesman techniques: promise every thing to everyone – someone will think he’s talking their lanquage and be impressed.
    I’m not, he’s a devious duplicitous person, but hi, he’s browns own man and he’s labour… masters of spin and obfuscation, sophists through and through.

  • HooksLaw

    The only thing vast about Balls is the way you over rate him.
    This speech was a load of duplicitous rubbish from start to finish. Jowell secured the Olympics by claiming it would cost about a quarter of what it actually cost. It seems remarkable for someone to praise the spirit of 1945 and at the same time condemn austerity.
    Beveridge was of course a Liberal.

  • Wilhelm

    i don’t want to be rude, really I don’t but Ed Balls sounds like an oaf, a simpleton yet he went to private school plus he’s got a slight speech impediment.

    What Balls didn’t say is if Labour gets into government in 2015, expect 5 to 7 million more bantu and muslim immigrants. ( the labour voting demographic )

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