The departure of David Miliband leaves politics generally the poorer. It also leaves the Labour party with a hole at the centre. DM may not have taken up a position that I would agree with every time he made it, but he was a centrist politician who understood the importance of remaining in the centre ground. As I said on Friday, his election as Labour leader at least would mark a recognition that Labour must remain in the centre ground if they are to return to office within the next decade. The election of Ed Miliband would mark instead a shift to the margins and a move away from power. ED won, and the long march begins.
The departure of DM however opens up the door to Ed Balls. His speech yesterday was clearly a pitch for the post of Shadow Chancellor. Balls is a bruiser and would relish the prospect of leading an anti-cuts campaign. His views reflect much of what Labour delegates were claiming. Whilst Darling and even Ed Miliband warn that not all cuts should be opposed, Labour members will not follow that line. Their mood is to oppose every cuts. ED's election has opened the floodgates of oppositionism and were Balls to be appointed Shadow Chancellor, it will mean Labour are following a populist, irresponsible line that will blow to pieces the years of hard work in the 1990s that gave Labour the image of a responsible party capable of taking difficult decisions when it comes to the economy and tax.
If ED is true to his word in his Leader speech about being responsible and supporting some cuts, he will not make Balls his Shadow Chancellor. If he is a populist with not answers to the biggest issue of the day, Balls will get the appointment he wants.
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