Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Has Balls been kicked into the long grass?

Pity Ed Balls. He was the rising star of Labour. A close ally of Gordon Brown and tribalist to the core, he made his ministerial start as City Minister. It was an exciting time for Balls, denouncing the Lib Dems for not being wholly in favour of minimalist regulation of the financial services sector and claiming we were party poopers for pointing out the risks of the arms-length approach to the City. Then Balls bounced his way into the Cabinet as Childrens Secretary under his beloved Brown.

A man at the heart of Labour, it was no surprise he threw his hat in the ring for the Labour leadership. Recently it was thought he was behind rumours that Andy Burnham was planning to pull out of the contest.

But now the boot seems to be on the other foot and it has kicked Balls hard. He has been forced to say he is not pulling out of the contest after failing to get the endorsement of the big unions who are looking for the "Stop Miliband" candidate by endorsing the other Miliband. This is rather humiliating for Balls given he was expected to garner reasonable levels of union support.

Not that all is lost for Balls. Union barons love to claim they are speaking for all their members but those same members haven't voted yet so maybe those who pay the political levy and vote (let's face it they will be a minority of TU members) will have different views. Balls will therefore get some votes in the Byzantine Labour electoral college.

Nevertheless, the omens for Balls are not good. Perhaps Labour members realise he is a guy who scares the voters. And having just got rid of one Leader who did that, they may be seeking to avoid making the same mistake twice.
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