When Ed Balls’ former aide got canvassed by a Corbynite

Written by David Singleton on 28 July 2016 in Diary

Karim Palant got talking on the phone about Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump and whether or not John McDonnell to wants to have the same fiscal rule as his predecessor.

As the Labour leadership contest hots up, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith are furiously hitting the phones.

But what happens when a Corbynite canvasser unwittingly calls a sceptical former Labour staffer with an impeccable grasp on economic policy?

Karim Palant worked for Ed Balls as head of policy from 2010 to 2015, overseeing policy development and liaising with business for the then shadow chancellor. He joined Facebook's public policy team last year.

On Facebook, he recalled being telephone canvassed by a member of Corbyn's campaign this week.

He stated: "Sadly I wasn't able to write it down or record it but here is my recollection."


Caller: Hi I am calling from Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign have you got a moment to speak.

Me: Oh yes.

Caller: Great. Have you made up your mind how you are going to vote in the Labour leadership election.

Me: No, not yet.

Caller: Oh. And why is that?

Me: Well... I like some of what Jeremy is saying. And I voted for him last time [a little white lie...] But I am very worried about the polls.

Caller: Yes I think Jeremy hasn't really had a chance to lead though.

Me: Sure, but what is his plan to turn things around in the polls.

Caller: Well there is a populist mood out there at the moment as we saw with Brexit and with Trump and the SNP and Jeremy is able to tap in to that.

Me: Really?!

Caller: Yes

Me: Trump?

Caller: Well in the sense that there's an anti-establishment mood and he is anti-establishment.

Me: Oh. But what kinds of things is he going to say to appeal to this mood? What's his approach to these people going to be?

Caller: Well he is anti-austerity.

Me: So he's not going to say stuff like Trump then?

Caller: Oh no goodness I didn't mean that he was actually like Trump!

Me: Sure sure. But what is he for then?

Caller: He is anti-austerity and...

Me: Yes that is true. But what is he for?

Caller: Well austerity is causing a lot of anger and is hitting people's wages and incomes and housing and he will stand up for them.

Me: Is being anti-austerity a new thing.

Caller: No he has always been anti austerity.

Me: Oh. It doesn't seem to be working. But also hasn't the Labour Party always been anti-austerity?

Caller: No Jeremy has changed that

Me: But didn't Gordon Brown in 2009 bring all the G20 leaders together and commit them all to a growth plan to get us out of the financial crisis rather than to all cut back. I thought Labour had been anti-austerity since 2009?

Caller: Well I don't remember that, but Ed Balls.

Me: What about Ed Balls?

Caller: Well he was arguing for cuts

Me: Isn't that what john Mcdonnell is arguing for?

Caller: No

Me: But hasn't john mcdonnell said he wants to have the same fiscal rule as Ed Balls?

Caller: I'm not sure but...

Me: I think they have both said that they want to eliminate the current budget deficit but leave space for borrowing for capital?

Caller: Yes but there is a much bigger emphasis on investment, john mcdonnell wants to invest

Me: What in?

Caller: Well in growing the economy

Me: Ok.. so by?

Caller: Well housing for a start - social housing not just so called 'affordable' housing.

Me: Ok. Has he got a target for how many?

Caller: Oh I don't know good question just let me have a look.

Me: Say 200,000 or so?

Caller: I... um...

Me: I only ask because it was in the 2015 manifesto you see so i'm trying to work out whether this is anything different...

Caller: Oh right. Well I think there's obviously more areas. Is there anything else you're worried about?

Me: Oh that's not a problem. Yes there was one other thing. I am Jewish you see, and I am very worried about all of this anti-semitism.

Caller: Yes. Jeremy obviously is against any form of discrimination.

Me: Well yes, I would expect that. But what is his plan to deal with the issue as a whole?

Caller: Well obviously Jeremy condemns anything like that.

Me: Ok.

Caller: Is there anything else?

Me: (arriving at the pub) No thanks that was very helpful.

Caller: Do you know when your nomination meeting is?

Me: Yes, thanks, bye



Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

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