As usual, it all starts to unravel as soon as Balls gets to the public finances. His position is blunt and straightforward: that "Labour needs strong leadership to make a credible argument against slashing public spending and raising VAT, which will increase unemployment and risk a double-dip recession." Ok, there's a place in the debate for someone questioning the depth and pace of the government's cuts. But Balls's aggressive insistence on this point doesn't quite chime with a Demos/YouGov poll today, which suggests that many Labour voters switched support in the election because "they believed that state spending had reached – or even breached – acceptable limits".*
Balls's approach will probably be to claim that at least he's being upfront about his position – which isn't entirely untrue. None of the Labour leadership contenders, including Balls, have set out their detailed thoughts on fiscal policy. But Balls has still done more than enough to establish himself as the anti-cuts candidate.
* That poll also has the eyecatching finding that, "a third of those who stuck with Labour believed that the priority for the NHS was to avoid cuts". Which could strengthen or undermine the Tories' decision to ringfence health spending, depending on how you look at it.