David Blackburn

The many faces of Ed Balls

The many faces of Ed Balls
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In the spirit of goodwill, Ed Balls has called-off the class war. As ever with Balls that is but half the story. Class war has not so much ceased as been re-branded. A Brown aide, quoted in the Independent, says that Labour's strategy is concerned with "economic class, not social class". So there we are; the impoverished squirearchy can sleep sound tonight: the Labour party is only interested if you're nouveau riche - how gloriously snobby. 

Whilst Balls' spite for those born nibbling a silver spoon has allegedly lessened, his leadership machinations continue apace. Ever industrious, Balls passed Christmas by flirting with traditional Christian Socialists, offering them a morsel of encouragement about the importance of family and marriage to society, disregarding how his policies have compounded those institutions' decline. Today he makes a pass at the chattering classes. The Times reports

'Mr Balls, who is certain to be a candidate in any future election, underlined his new Labour credentials. He said that while at the Treasury with Mr Brown they had made the Bank of England independent, introduced tax credits to reward work, put tough conditions on benefits, cut corporation tax and capital gains tax and delivered the cash refrom the public services.

"The response to the recession has been classic new Labour: cutting taxes and increasing public spending in the first year to speed up the recovery, ensuring businesses stay afloat, keeping reposessions as low as possible, and now asking those who can afford it to pay a little more."'

By no means is this a defence of either party, but new Labour is anathema to Balls. The ideology of his attack on the private sector, in the form of the PBR's increased national insurance contributions and an ever burgeoning public sector that squeezes the private labour market, is reminscent of Fred Pike, Peter Sellers' shop steward in I'm Alright Jack, who admires Russia - "what with all them corn fields and ballet in the evening". Nevermind having two faces, Balls sports three; then again, he is trying to be all things to all men.