What are the lessons from the first encounter?
I’ve just go round to looking at the coverage of this afternoon’s first clash between chancellor George Osborne and his new shadow, Ed Balls – an encounter that has been several years in the making.
It was planned to have started in June 2009 but Gordon Brown found himself so weakened by the elections of that month that he had to keep Darling at the treasury. Then it could have been on from last September but EdM appointed somebody else.
The two very much of a kind – both tribal politicians to their very cores and both with the ability to wound. Their success or failure in their current roles could play a big part in determining the next general election.
Both have been central to their party economic policies for a long time and both have strengths and also glaring weaknesses. Neither comes over particularly well in TV interviews and both appear to be much more comfortable in the gladiatorial environment of a commons question time.
Ed Balls built up a justifiable reputation during his time shadowing Michael Gove in the first months of the coalition government. I think he’ll find Osborne less of a push-over. Having Balls across the dispatch boxes makes it a lot easier for Osborne to attack the former government’s record. That’s balanced by Balls’s enormous expertise and knowledge of the area.
Most commentators marked today as a win for Osborne though I’m not so sure that future encounters will be the same.