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.