Peter Hoskin

The Balls forecast

The Balls forecast
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Remember the general hoo-haa when Gordon Brown accidentally referred to a "global depression" in PMQs last week?  Well, now Ed Balls has surpassed His Master's Slip-up, and by some distance.  Here's what the Schools Minister told Labour's Yorkshire conference at the weekend:

"The economy is going to define our politics in Britain in the next year, the next five years, the next 10 and even the next 15 years. These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape.

I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy.

We now are seeing the realities of globalisation, though at a speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before. The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I'm sure, over 100 years as it will turn out."

The No.10 spin operation has mobilised itself and, as Ben Brogan reported earlier, is suggesting that Balls' comments are referring solely to how global this downturn is.  Even if you accept that excuse, you've got to ask: what possessed Balls to go anyway near a "worst in 100 years" formulation in the first place?  It certainly creates a series of ready-made attacks for the Tories.