Peter Hoskin

Where does Balls stand now?

Where does Balls stand now?
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One of the many questions whirling around Westminster is what Brown is doing to placate Ed Balls.  So, so close to his dream job of Chancellor - but denied it because of Brown's precarious position, and an exhilarating intervention by James Purnell - Balls is now stuck as Schools Secretary; a role in which he has hardly excelled and has found it difficult to compete against Michael Gove. 

There's nothing certain, but plenty of theories among Labour folk I've spoken to: that Balls is simply taking one for the team; that his wife's move to the DWP is part of a compensation package; that Brown has promised to designate him the heir apparent when the time comes, if that wasn't going to happen already etc. etc.  Of course, Balls will still be, with Peter Mandelson, one of Brown's closest advisers - and many say that he's a kind of de facto Chancellor anyway - but you do wonder whether things will ever be the same again.