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Friday, January 21, 2011

Are two Eds better than none?

The unexpected and rather unfortunate departure of Alan Johnson from the Labour Shadow Cabinet has plunged Labour back into rather familiar territory. Suddenly, we find that the top jobs have been taken by acolytes of Gordon Brown and the Blairites are out in the cold.

Today's Daily Telegraph though highlights other consequences of the elevation of Ed Balls to the Shadow Chancellorship. They say that despite coveting the role he has now inherited, Mr. Balls was rebuffed by his newly elected leader only three months ago.

Speculation is that this was due to the fact that the two former aides to Gordon Brown have had tense relations since the "non-election" of 2007. Mr Balls was accused of blaming the fiasco on Mr Miliband and Douglas Alexander in the hope of escaping blame himself.

They go on to report that some Labour MPs have expressed fears that Mr Miliband and Mr Balls will struggle to maintain a united front, reviving memories of the bitter personal rivalry between Mr Brown and Tony Blair.

Rather more importantly is the difference in approach to the economy between Mr. Balls and Alan Johnson. Ed Balls is a deficit-denier whereas Mr. Johnson and Mr Miliband have stuck broadly to the last Labour government's plan to halve the deficit over four years.

There is no doubt that Ed Balls will prove to be a combative opponent to George Osborne but will his boss be able to keep him reined-in and on-message? We will have to see.
"Miliband has only got one Balls" almost fits the tune of the popular marching song...
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