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Ed Balls takes another mauling despite Osborne’s weak autumn statement

Fri 6 December 2013, 12:12pm

osborneballsNot a great time for either Labour party on either side of the Irish Sea. Here’s an object lesson in which we learn that channeling anger over the dispatch box at a unpopular enemy with a weak economic portfolio, is not simply not enough…

Matthew Engel in the FT…

What the statement does do, uniquely, is pit the chancellor against his shadow in a Commons set piece (on Budget Day, the Leader of the Opposition replies). Mr Balls had a disaster this time last year, and he marked the anniversary by having another. He knew in broad terms what was coming: he could have responded to the improved figures by being sarcastic, subtle, patronising, teasing, anything.

But he was too inflexible to do anything of the kind. Instead he just shouted the old news in a cod-angry voice, about flatlining, the cost of living and the triple-A credit rating. The Tories responded by bullying him like the Bullingdon Club ragging an oik. I am not sure whether Mr Balls was ill at the start; he certainly looked it by the end. His leader’s face was more telling: Mr Miliband wore the forced smile of a parent whose six-year-old has forgotten their single line in the panto. The Labour backbenches were silent.

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Comments (8)

  1. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    I watched the train crash live… for the first time in my life the idea of a United Ireland was preferable to a United Kingdom run by that bunch of muppets. Come back Tony and Gordon, heck even Red Ken and Tony Benn would be better! I actually got a shiver down my spine when I saw Milliband’s & Harman’s face.

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  2. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2013/dec/05/autumn-statement-george-osborne-ed-balls-video

    here it is to view of the Guardian website.

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  3. sherdy (profile) says:

    Ed Balls it up!

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  4. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    The problem seems to be that he didn’t have that much subtlety in his reply, no entertainment or flexibility. I think he just started to go downhill from the start and couldn’t recover. Sometimes I have those kind of days when I am speaking in public, so I can sympathise. The problem is that he is such an enthusiastic heckler of others that when he gets a taste of heckling himself that its hard to have sympathy.

    Moreover the chancellor should not be too smug.

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  5. Neil (profile) says:

    It appears that the Bullingdon Bully routine may well win a debate in political style, but the general public sometimes aren’t won over by quips. Ipsos poll says 40% of people trust Ed Balls vs. 24% for Gideon, and 50% of people believe they’ll be worse off while 20% say better off as a result of his budget.

    Telling people they’re better off when they aren’t won’t work as most people aren’t nearly as thick as a person with a millionaires education seem to think. Also, telling people they’re going to be worked to death to buy votes for the Tory party from older, richer people is liable to rankle.

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  6. Neil (profile) says:

    That poll…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2519289/Half-voters-think-George-Osbornes-Autumn-Statement-bad-them.html

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  7. What is missing here is the concert organised by the Tory Whips.

    No: Ed Balls (a good guy: used to see him going to work on the Northern Line) cannot complain too much: what goes around, comes around.

    Except, the putative 18th baronet of Ballintaylor and Ballylemon cannot be exactly commended for his performance either (as Mr Fealty’d headline piece suggests).

    Sure enough, within moments of delivery the Osborne & Little soft-furnishings started to come adrift.

    Oh, gosh! Golly gosh! The GB economy (i.e the Tory voting areas of the South East of the Saxon Empire) are doing well! better than even the lost American colonies! Err .. not so. Within moments we realised US employment was down below 7% and GNP growth better than the UK.

    I’m still perplexed on the purpose of this “Autumn Statement” (well into December = “Autumn”?). If it involves a “feel-good factor”, rather than a stroke-the-fat-cats or kow-tow to the right-wing press’s leader writers, it missed its mark. As The Economist was quick to point:

    More importantly, it still remains to be seen whether the public will be fully won over by Mr Osborne’s economic strategy in time for the next general election, due to be held in 2015. As the experts busy themselves reading through the statement’s finer details today, its less flattering points may begin to become clear—just like in March 2012 when Mr Osborne was accused of taxing “pasties” and “grannies”, after what initially seemed to be a well-received budget. When those sorts of troublesome details start to hit the surface, they may yet prove more interesting than Mr Osborne’s statement was itself.

    Those of us longer in the tooth recall that “Woy” Jenkins was the scapegoat for Labour’s defeat in 1970. If/When it goes pear-shaped for the Toeies in May 2015, who else collects the ordure?

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  8. Master McGrath (profile) says:

    The Ed Balls performance is really alarming for those of us who hope to see some change in the future.
    For someone who has been in politics at the highest level for as long as he has the knowledge that he knew what was coming in general terms and had no notion of how to deal with it when it was presented on the floor is very worrying.
    He lost it and he knew it from very early on in his response.
    He was unprepared and lost it and the World and his Wife could see it.
    It is not just the South of England that needs to be convinced – few in Scotland will be running to make sure their vote is recorded FOR the Union now as a result of this.

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