Now, this is novel – a politician effectively admitting that they’d like to be party leader. It may be Ed Balls – interviewed in the latest New Statesman – so the news is hardly a surprise. But it still makes a change from the usual non-denials we hear from those with an eye on the leadership. Here’s how he puts it:
“I’m not going to say that I don’t want to be leader of the Labour Party, that would be a silly thing to say. But if I ended my political career not being [leader], would that be a failure? Absolutely not. And will I always back the leader of the Labour Party? One hundred per cent.”
And, just for good measure, he rounds off the interview with this:
“Would I like to be chancellor at some point in the future? Of course I would. I’d love it.”
That final admission recalls last autumn, when there was plenty of talk about Ed Balls replacing Alistair Darling, after the current Chancellor made his “worst in 60 years” observation. Then, Darling was more right than wrong, and ended up strengthening his position. Now, you sense something similar happening – as Mervyn King’s comments have forced Gordon Brown to come round to his Chancellor’s position on the public finances.