Ed Balls: Excellent News
Back in September I argued for Balls to be made Shadow Chancellor. So, although it is sad that Johnson has had to step down for personal reasons, I’m delighted by his appointment today.
The Bloomberg Speech last August, one that won high praise from Martin Wolf and Sam Brittan in the pages of the FT, remains the best demolition of the Government’s economic strategy we’ve heard from any politican since the election.
One occasionally wonders how the General Election might have played out a little differently if we’d made such a case rather than arguing over £6bn of in-year “efficiency savings” (which of course turned out to include such efficiencies as scrapping the Future Jobs Fund and Child Trust Fund).
The Bloomberg speech still makes for excellent reading, especially the emphasis on Keynes and the need to question conventional wisdom. But that wouldn’t come as a surpise to those who have read Steve Richards’s “Whatever It Takes”
The youthful Balls had ideas about how to build the stable architechture, and yet like Brown he was also committed to tackling unemployment and poverty. In interviews later Balls described himself openly as a socialist, a rare admission in New Labour circles and not a term used by Brown. Keynes was one of Balls’s heros, long before the economist became more fashionable after the credit crunch in 2008. (pp. 59)
We’ve got a Shadow Chancellor who doesn’t need a primer in economics, things are about to get interesting.