Peter Hoskin

Ed Balls follows Ed Miliband’s lead

Ed Balls follows Ed Miliband's lead
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So fraternal rivalry it is, then, as Ed Miliband prepares to announce his leadership bid at a Fabian Society conference today. And, reading his interview with the Guardian, it's clear that Ed Balls is soon going to follow suit. Two Eds, two leadership bids, and much shared rhetoric about "listening" to voters.

But the similarities don't end there. The passage where Ed Balls argues in favour of "progressive universalism" – a welfare system which stretches to the middle classes – echoes an interview that Ed Miliband gave to the Guardian in March. Both claim that it's important to make sure tax credits and other benefits reach those higher up the income scale. And both claim that Tory plans to trim back the welfare state are damaging to this goal.

As I said at the time of Miliband's interview, this progressive universalism does rather disregard the state of the public finances. But that's Labour's problem. The problem for the rest of us is that it is a way of getting an "investment vs cuts" dividing line in through the back door. For anyone who wants a mature fiscal debate, that's no good thing. And neither is Ed Balls.