Balls the new Brown

by | Dec 5, 2011

Remember how Gordon Brown used the Treasury to keep the rest of the Cabinet on a short leash? Seems like Ed Balls is up to the same trick:

It’s almost cliched to paint Balls as the the crudest of tax and spenders, throwing money at a failed system in a desperate attempt to turn the ship around. To read much of the media coverage around the shadow chancellor (and for that matter, the Labour leader), you’d presume they long for nothing more than another spending binge.

Yet tell that to the shadow cabinet, many of whom feel stymied in their attempts to even float potential new policies (nevermind make concrete spending commitments) by the strict control Balls’ office has maintained over even potential spending commitments. Nothing that could even notionally impinge on economic policy is put forward without the explicit say so of the shadow chancellor – a cause for silent frustration for many seeking to make their mark around the shadow cabinet table.

I am sure Ed Miliband is enjoying this as much as Tony Blair did.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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