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

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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