James Forsyth

Yet another Balls up | 7 April 2009

Yet another Balls up | 7 April 2009
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Nearly everyone would accept that education is the key to advancement in the globalised, knowledge economy and that now is the worst time in almost a generation to look for a job. So, it is a huge error for the government to now be telling sixth-form and colleges that there is a £60 million shortfall in funding. In the days before we became inured to governmental incompetence, this kind of mistake would have led to calls for ministerial resignations.

Michael Gove, Balls’s opposite number, points out what the consequences of this cock-up by Balls’ department are:

‘The Education Secretary is now in the deeply uncomfortable position of telling thousands of sixth-formers, desperate to learn and acquire the qualifications necessary for this ever more competitive world, that there's no place for them in his plans. They'll be turned away from schools, their courses will have to be abandoned, as a direct result of his incompetence. Because schools found out a few days ago that millions of pounds they were promised last month has just vanished. The money has disappeared out of the Government's accounts. And with it has gone the last vestige of any confidence in Mr Balls's ability to handle his department.'

Whenever the idea of Harriet Harman leading the Labour party is floated, people pooh-pooh it claiming the idea is just absurd and that Harman would do huge damage to Labour. But it is hard to see why people take Balls more seriously. He is a worst media performer than Harman, an equally bad at running a department and one can hardly imagine that he is what the public have been waiting for. Add to this, that it is now evident how flawed Balls’s economic and financial advice to Brown was and you realise that Balls is that rare thing, someone who makes Harman look like a credible candidate.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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