Balls Admits Defeat

So it seems Balls’s campaign to be leader is officially over. Plan B, to get the Shadow Chancellorship, kicked in this morning at Bloomberg. As refreshing as it was to finally hear a leadership candidate talk about the economy, Balls’s pitch for the number two job was way off the mark. With David Miliband hinting that Labour must start to accept some home truths and not fight everything the coalition has done, and the fact that he is sticking to Labour’s “halve the deficit in four years plan” why would he appoint Balls, who is still stuck in denial, as his money man? If he does make the job, his half-baked theories are going to be ripped to shreds in and outside the Party…

The speech itself was hard-hitting, there is no denying that Balls is the man to lay punches, however inaccurate, on the Coalition. Much hay was made of the fact that he correctly predicted Osborne would raise VAT, a fact he only knew because Labour would have had to do the same had they won. As Pete Hoskin points out blatant lies were also told:

Balls says that “George Osborne … is planning to go £40 billion further and faster this year than even Alistair Darling’s plans,” I’m sure he must mean “over this Parliament,” not “this year”. Because that’s the truth.

One bit of confusion that always tickles Guido is how Balls claims that the last recession was the biggest economic crisis of the last hundred years, yet constantly warns that the Coalition plans will take us back to the 1930s depression. A mere seventy to eighty years ago – which was the worst crisis Ed?

For those wondering, a co-conspirator was able to put a crowd sourced question from readers at last night’s Q&A with Balls. Asking whether his friendship with Damian McBride revealed a lack of judgement that rendered him unsuitable for high office, and when was the last time he had any form of communication with his old pal, Balls dodged the first bit but admitted he still talks on the phone to Damian. He was quick to add in an unofficial capacity and he wasn’t taking advice from him. Probably a wise move…

Question to Balls

Guido is off to watch the death throes of Ed Balls’s leadership campaign over at Clifford Chance where he is doing a Q&A at 18:30 with Steve Richards. Tomorrow morning he is also giving  a speech at Bloomberg at 08:30. Both will have questions from the floor so you never know Guido, or an audience ally, might just get the chance to make Blinky squirm at one of the events.

What would you ask?

Questions in the comments please…

Davided Endorsements

With the candidates back from holiday, the finishing line is finally in sight for the Labour leadership. The news that the New Statesman has fallen in line with the Labour youth and trade union movement to back Ed Miliband shouldn’t really come as much surprise. What is shocking is how seriously Labour hacktivists seem to be taking the endorsement of a magazine that barely scrapes 15,000 copies a month. To describe it as “big media endorsement” beggars belief. It seems the Staggers knows it’s audience though – all the university library readers were voting Ed anyway.

Word is lefty firebrand Jon Cruddas, whose second preference votes gave Harman the deputy-leadership in 2007, is set to endorse David Miliband imminently – real votes that would blow the New Statesman’s mere words out of the water.

UPDATE : Cruddas has endorsed D-Mili as expected.

Labour’s Happy Left Turn

Peter Mandelson warned recently that the leadership candidates were abandoning the successful tenets of New Labour. He got no thanks for it. Mandy can see that the majority of the Labour Party is in denial – Alastair Campbell actually denies Labour lost the election – and the party is lurching to the left as a consequence.

The leadership election illustrates the point; Diane Abbott is unashamedly of the hard-left, Andy Burnham says he is a socialist, Ed Balls is a deficit denier, Ed Miliband spouts meaningless nonsense “I pledge to ensure that we are a party of women as well as men” and left-wing clap-trap non-stop as he gloats about the burial of New Labour. Even Blairite David Miliband is talking left.

All good news for those of us who want to see the Labour Party become electorally irrelevant. That Labour’s membership numbers are apparently rising as lefties return is great news. They’ll demand that Labour “fights the cuts” when only a few months ago Labour was planning £50 billion of cuts. Blairite realists will be condemned as “collaborators”, they’ll accuse life-long liberals of being reactionary Tories. They will demand Labour Party support for, and solidarity with Unite strikers wrecking people’s summer holidays. Good news for those of us who want Labour to become the irrelevant third party. Guido is certain that many Labour activists will enjoy themselves far more in opposition…

Quote of the Day

Hugo Rifkind writes on the Labour Leadership contest…

“They’re having the leadership contest that none of them had the guts to have two years ago; promising to do all the things they didn’t do when they could have actually done them.”

Money Money Money

The latest batch of donations to the Labour leadership candidates has just emerged. Perhaps most surprising is that millionaire novelist Ken Follet gave Ed Balls £100,000 toward his campaign. And still he won’t pay his interns for their hard work.

David Miliband now has a war-chest of over 320k. Little brother Ed has been buoyed by £28,000 from the GMB but is still way behind his brother and Balls.

Developing…

UPDATE: Andy Burnham had a donation got ten grand from footballer Jamie Carragher.

UPDATE II: Ed Miliband is spinning that he has an additional £60k to play with that has come in small donations that did not need to be declared to the Electoral Commission.

Band of Brothers

As if the Labour leadership contest wasn’t exciting enough already, just as it comes to its natural conclusion we learn this morning that More4 will be making a docu-drama about the Mili-brothers. The “light-hearted” look at their bitter rivalry that has seen them drive a wedge through their family in their individual quests for power, will go out the night before the result is announced. The rumours that Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise will be rekindling their acting partnership are apparently wide of the mark.

Diane’s Dialling Dilemma

Guido was following up, what turned out to be, a dud tip-off last week that gave him reason to put a call into the Abbott campaign. Or at least try to. It turns out it’s quite hard to find any contact information on her website, in fact there are no details. After a quick ring around, the consensus was that the person he needed to talk to was Sally Scott, who handles Diane’s media. All very well except the number he was given was a parliamentary one…

Abbott has barely raised any money for her campaign, but that does not give her an excuse to flout the very clear rules that state you cannot use your parliamentary office, phone lines or staff hours for campaigning in an internal party election. Abbott’s website for her constituents states Scott handles her media concerning her job as an MP. She is breaking the rules if there is no defined crossover. Guido cannot see how his chat on Friday, about Andy Burnham, with a publicly funded spinner, Sally Scott, could have aided Abbot’s constituents in Hackney in any way.

Crash and Burnham

Poor Andy Burnham, try as he will, nothing seems to be going right in his leadership campaign. Despite basing his campaign oop north, last night he was all set for a big phonebanking event at Labour HQ, which all candidates […]

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The Smoking Gun

While it may be a mere attempt at generating some headlines, if ever proof was needed that despite the long haul of handshakes, the hustings, the “internal debate”, the Labour Leadership frontrunner David Miliband still doesn’t get it, then […]

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Has Jonah Cursed Miliband The Younger?

Though publicly he is staying out of the race to succeed him, news is allegedly trickling out of the Brown camp. Apparently he has realised what everyone else knew for a long time – that Ed Balls doesn’t have a […]

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Shock: Balls Breaks Promise

In some shocking news, Ed Balls has said one thing and done another. As Guido reported earlier in the week, Balls made a bit of a blunder by promising to pay “interns and volunteers” the national minimum wage, whilst turning […]

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Quote of the Day

Labour candidate Clive Lewis tells the Staggers:

“I mean, in the multiverse there’s still three universes in a hundred where there’s a Green MP in Norwich, so anything could happen. I could be caught with my pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end – well, hopefully that won’t happen.”

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