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Monday, August 27, 2012

Blair-Brown Mk II?

The Independent has a fascinating insight into the war that is being waged within Labour's shadow cabinet between the party's Leader and Shadow Chancellor.

They say that relations between Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have become increasingly strained in recent months with the two men clashing over policy and presentation. They quote insiders who claim that Mr Miliband is frustrated by the reluctance of Mr Balls to take a harder line on Britain's banking sector and is demanding that he be consulted on all policy statements. At the same time, allies of Mr Balls have expressed frustration at Mr Miliband's poor media performances and suggest that the party would be doing better still in the polls if he were not leader:

Shadow Cabinet members are said to be increasingly concerned that the two are beginning to replicate the type of dysfunctional relationship that existed between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during their time in power. Among recent examples are:

* Mr Balls pre-empted a keynote announcement by Mr Miliband calling for a public inquiry into Britain's banking sector. Mr Miliband had been due to make the call in a newspaper interview but Mr Balls got in first – announcing the plan a day early on the radio. The move infuriated Miliband aides who felt an agreed media strategy had been sabotaged.

* Shadow Cabinet members say Mr Miliband is failing to stand up to Mr Balls at meetings. They describe the shadow Chancellor as domineering and say he now insists on approving all policies regardless of whether they have an economic impact.

* Mr Balls is said to have blocked moves by Mr Miliband to take a tougher line on bank regulation. Mr Miliband wanted to announce that Labour would legislate to force retail banks to hive off their investment arms – but this was vetoed by Mr Balls. Mr Miliband's aides played down the disagreement.

One source has even claimed that Mr Balls is given to "displays of Alpha-male posturing" and that "Ed is frankly a bit scared of him. He doesn't know what Balls will do next. He refuses to listen to him on economic policy and believes he has a veto on all policy".

And to think that there are still three years to go before a General Election. Can Labour hold it together that long?
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