David Blackburn

Balls the victim

Balls the victim
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Ed Balls has been on the phone to Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman. ‘Nothing to do with me Guv,’ is his response to the Independent’s story about briefings against Andy Burnham. Balls has gone to great lengths to re-invent himself. Ever since the Damian McBride scandal, the former Education Secretary has tried to banish the bully-boy reputation he built as Gordon Brown’s protégé.

Masks barely obscure the face; but, to be fair to Balls, his opponents benefit from recalling his unpalatable past. During the New Statesman’s leadership debate, Ed Miliband said: “It’s just like being back in the Treasury, Ed!” So it’s plausible that the anti-Burnham briefings may have been aimed at two targets. Balls thinks so. He is presenting himself as a long-suffering victim. He told Hasan:

‘Both of us (him and Burnham) think there is mischief being made -- but it's not coming from my team or his team. It's coming from a third party. I've had three years of people ringing up people like Rachel Sylvester and making accusations against me, off the record.’

Elaborate bluff? Or wronged innocent? With the inscrutable Balls, you never know. He's not Brown’s heir for nothing.