Has Gord anointed Balls as the next Labour leader?
After more than a decade of serving under the ex-public school boy and Oxford graduate, Tony Blair, it’s suggested this morning that Gord has decided that Labour’s next leader should be Ed Balls – who went to a Â£10,000 a year public school as a day pupil and then onto Oxford.
According to Iain Martin in the Sunday Telegraph Brown is planning to hand-over to his former top aide and now the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. This won’t happen immediately but the thinking is that the change-over should take place a couple of years after the next election which the Labour leadership is said to be now more confident of winning.
Martin notes: “….Be clear: Project Balls rolls on and gathers speed. In fact, the Schools Secretary’s ambition and the powerplays of his contemporaries in the Cabinet are the true subtext to Budget week…When the manoeuvring of Mr Balls is discussed in government circles, eyebrows are raised at his presumption that he will become PM, and discontent stirs. “Ed is massively ambitious, very talented and not a man prone to self-doubt,” says a friend…”
An intriguing element of Labour going for someone with a privileged educational background is is that this is that this is an area where it believes that David Cameron and the favourite to take the London Mayoralty, Boris Johnson, are vulnerable. All the talk at Labour’s spring conference last week was about the “Tory Toffs”.
There’s little doubt that Balls has benefited from Brown’s “assisted places scheme” since he became an MP less than three years ago. Gord was pushing Balls for a cabinet within a year of the last election although the ex-advisor had to wait until Brown got the top job before this came about.
If the leader is to be Balls then for all his educational background he badly need elocution lessons and advice on the way he presents himself. When it comes to speeches and interviews he is appalling and comes over very badly. This is on top of his arrogant and aggressive style which are not suited to television, the commons chamber or the conference hall. He might have been a great back-room boy but he has yet to master the art of compelling oral communication.
There have been betting markets on Labour’s next leader but I cannot see one at the moment.