David Blackburn

Balls: we have to be more bigoted

Balls: we have to be more bigoted
Text settings

Meet Ed Balls, the candidate for Mrs Duffy. As the race for nominations closes, the Labour leadership candidates are beginning to focus on party members. With varying degrees of conviction, the contenders have identified immigration as the issue the party must address if it is to reconnect with those voters who spurned it.

Ed Balls is that analysis's most fervent advocate. He devoted an article in the Observer to the subject.  Balls argued that there has been too much migration from Eastern Europe, and it has caused economic and social ills in communities such as the one he represents. In hindsight, Britain should have accepted the transitional controls during the eastern bloc’s accession in 2004.

Labour rejected the transitional controls for a reason. Balls and Brown constructed an illusory boom built in part on an inexhaustible supply cheap migrant labour. No broadcaster raised this point with Balls in interviews this morning. Instead they allowed him to revert to the old cuts versus investment line: Balls vowed to protect regions of the country presumably betrayed by Labour’s immigration policy. There was nothing new about Balls’ impassioned defence of Mrs Duffy on the Politics Show, she is merely the latest vehicle for his arcane, narrow politics.

Balls will be unconcerned by his lack of novelty: he has positioned himself as the traditional candidate. It may well win him the leadership. Immigration is an important and often marginalised issue, but the BNP’s limp showing in May suggests that it is not an election winning issue (and I write as one who thought it could be if the Tories did more to address to it). As for investment versus cuts? Well, everyone other than Ed Balls saw how that faired at the ballot box. Balls would be a catastrophe of Footian proportions as party leader.