David Blackburn

Ed Balls and the art of campaigning

Ed Balls and the art of campaigning
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I thought that Ed Balls would be a natural for opposition politics. But I’ve been struck by the naivety of some of his recent interventions – notably the Duffy-wooing immigration proposal.

As James has argued, Balls’ plan to limit freedom of movement within the EU ia classic opposition politics. They are eye-catching, populist and but completely unworkable in practice. But Balls isn’t really in opposition yet: the Labour party is caught in a kind of limbo whilst it determines its future, a future that Balls wants to control. Advocating the unimplementable looks conniving rather than statesmanlike, naïve rather than astute. It provided an opportunity for his opponents, and Peter Hain, a major backer of Ed Miliband’s, took it on BBC Straight Talk:

'Freedom of movement is a basic article of faith of the European Union. So the chances of changing that are about the same as the chances of going on holiday to Mars.'

Balls has the panache of a Renault Espace, and I think he'll lose anyway; but that immigration pledge may haunt him.