Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ed Balls' tax cut call shows why he will never be leader

Ed Balls is a real figure of hate to many in politics - and not just in the ranks of the Conservative Party. There is no doubt that he is very clever and often one step ahead of his opponents. His impact on Gordon Brown's career can never be over-estimated; it was immense.

However, despite the fact that unlike his former boss he is said to be good company, he will never be Labour leader. Ed Balls clever positioning this week, calling for a cut in VAT is the perfect example of his unelectability. Constant positioning, tactical tinkering, plotting to out-manoeuvre your opponents gets politicians far - it always has - but ultimately isn't appreciated by the public and they're the ones who matter.

While journalists and commentators crowed about his out-flanking of George Osborne and his repositioning of the Labour Party (he even led the BBC 10 o'clock news) he will forever be linked to the profligacy of Brown's stewardship of the economy and a culture of intimidation from Number 11 Downing Street. Furthermore, I would love to run a focus group on Balls' tax cut and I would wager the group would deem it unrealistic or unbelievable. Even if they broadly supported the idea of tax cuts.  

Ed Miliband is under real pressure currently as he fails to get a grip on his party or make a mark on the country. The latest polls showing Labour only level with the Conservatives must be a warning to Miliband and his team that they must do better. Meanwhile others in the Labour Party, such as Balls, are plotting.

While a day of headlines -seized through calling for a tax cut that goes against the current narrative - makes Balls standout like a peacock in a field of crows his colleagues remember his years of plotting that have gone before. Political parties do elect leaders that are unelectable to those outside the Westminster bubble but I don't think the Labour Party would be that stupid.

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