Balls is no fool, he’s just a clever idiot, which is far more dangerous
Well, well, well, the Shadow Chancellor’s Private Dick couldn’t keep his Member under control, so he has had to stand down and be replaced by a load of Old Balls. It’s Old Labour all over again, as Ed Minibrand covets No. 10 and Ed Balls dreams of No. 11.
“Ho, ho, boyo, we’ve got our party back!” cries Neil Kinnock, as he conjures up another premature emasculation of the economy, with a Union-backed PM doling out the pay rises over sandwiches and beer in Downing Street. “I always said two ’Eds are better than one!” As long as one of them isn’t your’s, Neil.
Well, these two same Eds have a lot of explaining to do: Ed Balls at HM Treasury was the architect of the financial disaster created by the man named after the colour brown, while both Eds were in the Cabinet responsible for the economic mess they collectively bequeathed the nation. Pardons and recriminations and apologies never were in Old Labour’s vocabulary, but these two Eds have decided to rewrite the history of New Labour’s mismanagement of the economy, from a clean inheritance in 1997 to a crock of the proverbial in 2010.
When the two Eds appeared on the Andrew Marr show in January and argued with his contention that they had let spending get out of control, they asked him why he had got it all so wrong.
“No,” says Ed 1, “I don’t agree that we let spending out of control! What went wrong was the banking crisis, which started in America!” Funny, I thought Northern Rock was in Newcastle, but I could be wrong. And as for AIG and Lehman, they are American but it was their London operations that were the Ground-Zero of the global crunch.
“No,” says Ed 1 again. “There was nothing wrong with our decision to set up the tripartite regulation of the banks, it was just that the implementation was bad!”
“No,” says Ed 2. “Spending did not get out of control. It was the banking crisis wot did it,” stammers Balls, the man who invented the Golden Rule: borrowing is fine, as long as it is balanced out over the cycle.
At this point I feel the need to re-acquaint the two Eds with some basic facts. In 1997/8 General Government Expenditure (GGE) was forecast at £315 billion; by 2010/11 it had risen to £697 billion, an increase of over 120%, or nearly 10% every year for 13 years. Yes, the government told us inflation was around 2%+ as measured by the CPI, which was a false statistic anyway, but you get the point, unlike the two Eds.
Furthermore, just as the Golden Rule should have kicked in around 2006, when the borrowings should have begun to be repaid, the GGE hit £550 billion and was projected to rise to £680 billion by 2010/11, under the banner headline for the 2008 Budget Stability and opportunity: building a strong, sustainable future. If only; as noted, the GGE hit £697 billion that year, while Government receipts were only £548 billion, leaving an unfunded shortfall of £150 billion. Just as they should have been cutting the GGE, New Labour stepped on the gas as the GGE accelerated away from any sustainability.
And what did Ed 2 do about this massive breach of his own Golden Rule? Why, one dark night, Ed 2 moved the goal-posts to the right and in the morning he declared that the cycle needed to be extended and that his Golden Rule was therefore still intact: Golden Balls! This led the man named after the colour brown to declare that he had “banished Boom & Bust, forever”, as the National Debt headed towards £1.0 trillion, with the Golden Rule missed by a cool £450 billion.
Balls is no fool, he’s just a clever idiot, which is far more dangerous, as he peddles his revisionist theories of fancy. And when he sees the movie The King’s Speech is adored by everyone, up pops the would-be demagogue on the front page of The Sunday Times to tell a hushed nation how he copes with his stammer! As if anyone’s interested.