Ed Balls on growth, credibility and getting emotional
The new issue of Total Politics, out tomorrow, features an interview with shadow chancellor Ed Balls by Amber and myself. With the autumn statement next week, the conversation was dominated by his ideas on growth and the economy, but we also found plenty of time to delve into what makes Ed Balls, Labour's so-called 'attack dog', tick. We discussed why he considers George Osborne to be "the best on their side", the chances of he or Yvette standing for the Labour leadership in the future, and why Elvis is his go-to choice for kareoke.
Intrigued? You should be, but to read the full interview, you'll have to go and buy a copy of the magazine. To whet your appetite, though, here are a few of the choicest quotes:
On the 'flatlining' economy: “I think because he’s [Cameron's] in phase one of being a prime minister, where he thinks that if he says things they must be true because he is the prime minister. He’s only now getting into phase two, where he finds out simply saying things doesn’t make them true. Therefore, whatever he says – ‘We’ve saved the economy’, ‘It’s all Labour’s fault’ – under his watch unemployment is rising again and the economy has flatlined. I’m a mirror reflecting reality back. He says, ’We’ve sorted out the economy’, I say, ‘Flat line’.”
On relationships at the top of the Labour Party: “The truth about me, Ed and Yvette is that we’ve known each other for 20 years. We’ve allcome from the same part of the party, intellectually. I did a Bevan lecture recently which Ed might have done, or Yvette, because we’re all from the... I’d call it ‘visionary pragmatic tradition’. You want to be in government but you also want to change the world.”
On Damien McBride and that 'attack dog' label: “I’ve not seen Damian McBride since he left the government... Quite a long time ago. I talk to him from time to time. Unlike Andy Coulson, McBride is not being questioned by the police and I’ve never invited him to Chequers... And maybe you might think that’s a bit ‘attack doggy’, but it’s the truth.”
On a 'new politics': “Sometimes people say, ‘The old party politics dividing line has gone.’ What a load of tosh. We have deeper, wider choices of where we go on the NHS, jobs, or the economy than in the 1980s. People want politicians to care. When Ed says people want to bring values back into politics, I really care... I’d rather that than be bland and boring.”
On getting emotional: "I cry at the Antiques Roadshow. You know, when someone comes in with some family heirloom and it’s often the last bit in the programme and the expert says, ‘Do you know how much this is worth? It’s valued at X thousand pounds.’ And they say, ‘I’m amazed it’s worth that much, but it means more to me than money.’ Incredibly emotional.”