Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ballsing it up

Since it seems all but inevitable that David Miliband will not stand for Shadow Cabinet, his brother is left with even more of a dilemma as to who to make Shadow Chancellor.  The problem is that the stand-out candidate, Ed Balls, is a risk.  He’s a risk for two reasons.  The first is that he comes complete with a pretty thorough economic policy of his own – essentially ‘no cuts until recovery is established’.  If Ed Miliband agrees with this, then fair enough – it’s if he prefers the Alistair Darling approach that formed, after all, the centrepiece of the manifesto that Miliband wrote that this is a difficulty.  The second problem is the nature of Balls himself.

Ed Balls was Gordon Brown’s consigliere for the entire lifespan of New Labour.  He was fundamental in plotting the downfall of Blair, and the rise of Brown.  He’s a dangerous man to hug too closely.  But then, he’s a dangerous man to leave in the cold as well.

And if it isn’t Balls, then who is it to be?  The other obvious choice would be Yvette Cooper – but would she really connive in the supplanting of her husband?  If Balls wants Shadow Chancellor – and he was desperate for the real job a year ago – I don’t think Cooper would stand in his way.  Burnham and Byrne are just too lightweight (and crippled, in Byrne’s case, by his infamous letter to David Laws), Alan Johnson has no economic background and, well, who else is there?

The solution I would try to work, were I Ed Miliband, would be to persuade Balls that he was best suited, for now, for the Home Office and that his wife should take Shadow Chancellor.  But I rather suspect that won’t fly, and we’ll be seeing a duopoly of Ed’s in control.

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