Peter Hoskin

Gove stirs up trouble for Balls

Gove stirs up trouble for Balls
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I gave it a passing mention in my last post, but it's worth highlighting Michael Gove's mischievous comment piece in the the Guardian today.  Why "mischievous"?  Well, because its purpose seems to be to rile Ed Balls and mobilise his internal opponents:

'In a series of not so subtle signals to the grassroots, Ed has been emphasising, whenever the opportunity arises, that he is the socialist candidate for anyone in the party who wants to move away from the sullied compromises of Blair era. In a recent interview he explained that the battle for the leadership would be a struggle between David Miliband and himself - setting up the contest as a choice between the clearest heir to Blair and the key opponent of Blairism. To avoid any semblance of doubt about just how opposed to Blairite thinking he was, he dismissed James Purnell's efforts to map out new centre-ground thinking as evidence of a 'mid-life crisis'. Ed clearly sees himself, like Nye Bevan at the end of the Attlee era, as the rallying figure for the left in the faction fight to come. And it was no coincidence that Ed made the case for Bevan as Labour's greatest hero in the Guardian's conference debate last year.'

It certainly makes sense for the Tories to play up Balls's leadership chances.  There's nothing more likely to incite Labour in-fighting that the prospect of a promotion for the Schools Secretary.  But the main reason to target Balls comes later in Gove's piece, when he highlights some of the appalling inadequacies of the schools system.  In no other policy area is there such a gulf between the failure of Brown's government and the transformative potential of the alternative.