James Forsyth

Balls blames Labour’s defeat on Darling’s refusal to rule out a VAT increase

Balls blames Labour's defeat on Darling's refusal to rule out a VAT increase
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In an article in the Telegraph tomorrow, Ed Balls demands that Labour oppose any increase in the rate of VAT by the Coalition. Balls confirms that he had wanted Labour to rule out raising VAT before the election and claims that doing so would have changed the ‘course of the election.’ Balls is, in effect, accusing the voices of fiscal responsibility in the party of losing it the election.

The piece is a challenge to Darling who stopped Labour from ruling out raising VAT, his fellow leadership challengers who’ll be asked if they agree with his position and Harriet Harman who’ll now be under pressure to have Labour oppose whole heartedly any rise in VAT.

Balls’ intervention is a clever act of positioning for the Labour leadership contest. A VAT increase will be unpopular with both the country and the Labour selectorate. No candidate for the leadership is going to want to support it. But now when they oppose it, they’ll look like they are following Balls.


Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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