Peter Hoskin

Balls to the rescue?

Balls to the rescue?
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Ed Balls plays knight-in-shining-armour today, defending his leader in a Times interview. Here's what he has to say:

"The efforts of local councillors and shadow leaders should not be undermined by this kind of indulgent nonsense. Rather than cause difficulties for the party, Labour will feel that these people should get out on the campaign trail and start fighting the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats...

...Anybody who has the strength and conviction to take the tough decisions [Brown] did on public spending in his first two years, resist pressure to go into the euro and deal with fears of recession in 1998 and 2001 shows that he knows how to handle difficult times."

To some extent, he's right. Labour's showing in the local elections will hardly be helped by internal divide. But – unfortunately for Balls and the Prime Minister – this outburst has come too late. The malcontents have already had their say, and the damage has already been done. If anything, it's just testament to the fading power of Team Brown that such pleas have to be made retrospectively.