Left Watch

« The best blog reactions to Ed Balls becoming Shadow Chancellor | Main | Labour planned to end the Educational Maintenance Allowance »

Miliband forces Ed Balls to U-turn on economic policy - but how long will he be able to contain him?

By Jonathan Isaby

Ed Balls 2010 Many papers this morning consider the first pronouncements by Ed Miliband's new shadow chancellor, Ed Balls.

Balls is to move into his boss's suite of offices (which Cameron and Osborne shared in opposition) and appears to have been ordered to backtrack on the position he had been taking on how to deal with the deficit.

Just five months he was attacking Labour for its "dangerous" plans to halve the deficit within four years, but on yesterday's World at One on Radio 4 he declared:

"I am clear. If there was a Labour government today, we would be halving the deficit over five years."

So the question is: for how long will Miliband be able to keep his shadow chancellor in check?

This is the issue which Peter Oborne hihglights in his Telegraph column today:

"When Ed Miliband went to work as a researcher to shadow chancellor Gordon Brown 15 years ago, Balls was already entrenched as the senior political adviser. Balls offered the heavyweight policy guidance, Miliband was the office junior who made the coffee. The two men both entered parliament at the 2005 general election, but it was Balls who had most influence. Miliband was always in the slipstream of his older – and more intellectually talented – rival. It takes a extremely formidable party leader to appoint such a dominant and feared figure to such a powerful post as shadow chancellor – and Ed Miliband is not yet such a leader. But Alan Johnson’s totally unexpected decision to resign for personal reasons left him no choice. Balls it had to be – and the decision is fraught with consequence, not just for the Labour Party, but also for the future of British politics."

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail carries the handy aide memoire below of how Ed Balls' position on the deficit has changed since last summer.

Picture 29