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Anthony Seldon calls on Balls to stand down

By Peter Hoskin
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The biographer, headmaster and all-round political player Anthony Seldon has written a letter to savour for tomorrow's edition of the New Statesman, in which he calls on Ed Balls to stand down as shadow chancellor. Here are some excerpts:

“After 20 unbroken years at the heart of politic... quitting in the next few months until, say, 2017 would undoubtedly benefit your leader, your party, your wife and even yourself. Let me explain.

Ed Miliband would be a much stronger leader without you... Forgive me, but you stop Ed breathing fresh air. With you close to him, his breath will always be stale and smell of a toxic brand. Without a prolonged period out of the public eye, neither you nor the party will ever rid yourselves of the opportunistic, negative and bullying image of the Gordon era...

Without you, Labour could present itself as a clean party, free of the factionalism and brutalism that so tarnished it when Brown was boss and you were his consigliere...

The greatest beneficiary would be you... If Labour loses in 2015, you will be blamed and your career will be damaged beyond repair. If it wins, you would return to the front bench in 2017 a redeemed and respected figure. You might even one day become leader, your long-held ambition.”