When Ed Balls appeared alongside George Osborne on the Andrew Marr Show earlier this year, the Shadow Chancellor told viewers how much he wanted to have a TV debate with the Chancellor. Balls was so keen that he made Osborne shake on a debate live on air. ‘In fact I'd like to go further,’ he cried. ‘George and I do not need the broadcasters to sort things out. George is not a coward.’
Indeed Osborne is not a coward, but could it be that Balls is a chicken? Mr S only asks as word reaches him that plans for a Chancellors' debate this week have been shelved after Balls demanded the involvement of Ukip. Broadcasters had initially agreed on a three-way debate, which would include Osborne, Balls and the Liberal Democrats' Danny Alexander. However, these plans began to fall apart after Balls tried to change the conditions of the debate.
‘Ed moaned that he would be ganged up on by Osborne and Alexander so he insisted that a Ukip Treasury spokesman be included, since they now have “major party” status,’ Mr S’s mole says. ‘That's not going to happen and Ed knows it. For all his tough talk, he just doesn’t want this debate to go ahead any more.’
Mr S suspects that it's time for a new chicken suit to be hired.