Ed Balls is the Fernando Torres of economics

Still warming up

A little while ago I wrote that Ed Balls was the Peter Ridsdale of economics thanks to his free spending ‘living the dream’ ways. Now I’m reconsidering

When Ed Miliband was forced to settle for his third choice as Shadow Chancellor (after Alan Johnson and, apparently, his brother) and appoint Ed Balls back in January Labourites were cock a hoop. The denizens of Labourlist cooed “We have some one who both understands and has a command of economic policy AND who has a far more Keynesian approach…an alternative to the Tories”, “Ed Balls, whilst more divisive and an easier target for the Tories, is the right choice because he is a big hitter who knows what’s talking about” (sic) and “Ed Balls will really take the fight to Gideon”. This was, after all, the man who had, er, designed the regulatory structure for banks and advised, um, Gordon Brown.

Never mind. The chronically moronic Sally Bercow tweeted “Osborne is toast!” and predicted “Ed Balls will be *fantastic* Shad Chancellor :))))”, perhaps indicating just what a daunting job Balls successor at education will have.

Sadly it’s not worked out like that. The lack of absolutely anything emerging from the Labour party which could usefully be called an economic policy has reduced Balls to the role of some sort of reverse cheerleader for coalition policy, popping up like the old Harry Enfield character to say “You don’t wanna do that!”

And when he does do something it is rubbish. Or worse, not even legal. He was at it again on BBC Breakfast this morning having a go at George Osborne for not cutting VAT on petrol in yesterday’s budget. But Osborne can’t do this, and neither could Balls because its illegal under EU law!

Indeed, a recent poll poll by Ipsos MORI, reported by Total Politics, found that

“Finally, on the head-to-heads, Osborne is equal with shadow chancellor Ed Balls when the public are asked who would make the most capable Chancellor. Considering the spending cuts that are starting to bite, and the poll makes it clear that the public believe recovery will be a long haul, Osborne could be happy with this”

A big name signing, welcomed excitedly at the time, but who has flopped – Ed Balls is the Fernando Torres of economics.

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