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The best blog reactions to Ed Balls becoming Shadow Chancellor

Tim Montgomerie selects some of the blogosphere's reaction to Ed Balls' replacement of Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor.

Matthew Hancock MP provides the official Tory line: "Ed Balls wrote the fiscal rules that brought Britain to the brink of bankruptcy. He was at the Treasury when they loaded PFI off balance sheet, and took a strong position of falling debt in 1997, built up the biggest deficit in the G7 before the crisis, and left Britain with the worst deficit in our peacetime history."

Mark Ferguson at LabourList warns that Ed Balls will be difficult for Ed Miliband to resist: "Unlike Johnson, who was by no means certain to serve as shadow chancellor for a full parliament, it's hard to envisage a circumstances in which Miliband could remove Balls. He has an independent power base in the party (something which Johnson had never really cultivated), and his supporters occupy roles which are important in themselves - including John Healey at Health, and of course Yvette Cooper, now in Balls' old job shadowing the home office. Ed Balls is the shadow chancellor for the long haul."

Fraser Nelson warns Tories not to underestimate Ed Balls: "I suspect that, right now, Theresa May is doing cartwheels and George Osborne cursing. Balls, for all his many drawbacks, is the most ferocious attack dog there is. His brilliance (and I hate using that word) at using numbers as weapons far surprassed anything the Tories could manage in Opposition. His policies are reckless: to borrow, and to hell with the consequences. His modus operandi is to launch around-the-clock attacks. He has powerful media contacts, and uses them to full effect. He is the most able fighter in Labour's frontbench."

But, at The Telegraph, John McTernan warns Theresa May not to celebrate: "Yvette Cooper is a good choice for Home Secretary. The forensic approach she deployed in government at the Department of Work and Pensions will pay dividends in scrutinising the Home Office. There are real fears amongst senior civil servants that the cuts in the operational budget of the Borders Agency will make enforcement of immigration policy extremely difficult. This, cuts in police numbers and any increase in crime (if it occurs) are huge vulnerabilities for the government. Yvette, in a very different style from her husband, will make the Home Secretary pay."

Janan Ganesh at The Economist notes the dominance of Brownites on Labour's rejigged frontbench: "The mark of Mr Brown is now stamped all over the upper end of the shadow cabinet. Although Mr Balls was always the chief Brownite aide, Mr Miliband and Douglas Alexander, the new shadow foreign secretary, were also senior advisers in the camp. Mr Balls's wife, Yvette Cooper, who has swapped the foreign-affairs brief for the home-affairs one, worked for Harriet Harman when the latter was part of Mr Brown's shadow treasury team in the 1990s. Given how unpopular Mr Brown became as prime minister, all these links to him are a vulnerability for Labour. When David Cameron, the prime minister, referred to Mr Miliband as a "son of Brown" last year, it was a vivid and wounding jibe. He will surely be reviving it."

Nick Robinson thinks Alan Johnson will be missed: "Alan Johnson was picked for the job because the former postman who rose to be his union's leader and then a cabinet minister could connect with the working class voters Labour had lost touch with and yet was a Blairite who worried about government spending too much. That is why he will be sorely missed."

And Iain Martin remembers the man who could have been Prime Minister: "Johnson had an open goal in January 2010. The ball was at his feet. Gordon Brown was spread-eagled on the floor in front of him and could easily have been stretchered off. In the January plot against Brown (which, as I wrote at the time, was much more serious than it was presented as being) all it would have taken would have been one shove from Johnson in private or public. Brown would have been out. Mandelson had removed air cover from Brown and Mili D had dithered so much that he was discredited. AJ could have made himself PM within days."

Guido Fawkes speculates that an aide to Ed Balls is responsible for Alan Johnson's downfall.

Final word to Patrick O'Flynn (and hopefully he's right):

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 20.18.04> Paul Goodman sees desperation in Ed Miliband's choice of Ed Balls.