Balls on Thatcher

Ed Balls blathered on Radio 5’s drive-time show last night. You can hear it here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01mk8w8/5_live_Drive_11_09_2012/

This is the transcript (testing my audio typing skills) of the closing part of the interview, at around 45 minutes. This deals with the “dancing on Thatcher’s grave” t-shirts which are doing very well thank you very much amongst Trade Union Conference stalls and websites.

Is this Ed Balls condoning the t-shirts until being backed into a corner?
In this transcript I’ve used (-) to indicate a significant pause, and italics to indicate any significant stress.

Approx 43:00
Ed Balls (EB):… George Osborne is preventing this Government doing anything to kick-start our recovery, to get growth moving. That is why this year, as I said at Treasury Questions, Government borrowing is up this year compared to last year…
Peter Allen (PA): Yes….That’s…
EB: …and his plan’s failed….
PA: I mean….you’re…..you’re talking about boosting public spending which is what got us into trouble in the first place. I mean…demand is something rather different isn’t it?
EB: Well….Peter….Peter…
PA: It can come from all sorts of things?
EB: We are talking about a cut in VAT, temporarily for a year. Bring forward infrastructure and investment because unless you get the economy growing and creating jobs you don’t get people paying tax, people are on benefits and borrowing goes up. Now for two years you and I have debated this and I have been saying for two years if they choke off recovery the borrowing will get worse. And it’s up by a quarter this year compared to last year. Because, in an economy, if nobody is spending and nobody is investing and we’re in recession things get worse. So Vince Cable, I think, I said this on Sunday, in his heart of hearts, Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat  Business Secretary, knows the Conservative Party strategy for the economy is flawed  and failed. He’s not allowed to say that.  And he won’t go out and say that, (-) he’s tinkering around the edges (-) with, as John Pienaar was saying, finding different ways to repackage inactivity and no action.  And it’s not good enough, and we need a new change and I understand why the Trade Unions are very frustrated at the moment because their members are having such a hard….
PA: Okay….
EB: …Such a hard time….But….What you can’t do is deny that the next Labour Government will have some difficult decisions to make and I said that to the Congress in those terms today.
PA: Mmm. What would you say to somebody at Congress who wore one of these t-shirts saying “A Generation of Trade Unionists will dance on Thatcher’s grave”?
EB: (-) Well…I…I actually said at the Congress today that nobody wants to go back to the hatred and division of the 1980s. Nobody wants to go back to the (-) lost days and strikes. Seven times more days lost in strikes in the 80s than under the Labour Government. Nobody wants to go back to the high unemployment and the terrible NHS waiting lists…
PA: …I was talking about the t-shirts….
EB: ….
PA: Not…not the….
EB: I think the T-shirt…..Expresses a view of that division…
PA: Are you condoning it?
EB: …which I reject entirely….Completely, completely.
PA: Completely.
EB: I don’t want to go back to the division of the 1980s. Er…(-) I don’t like that kind of politics.
PA: Yeah. So you would say to people “Don’t wear that shirt”? Don’t wear that t-shirt?
EB: (-). Yeah. I would say to people (-) do not wear that shirt.
PA: Thanks very much. That’s Ed Balls….

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Labour Balls Up

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Cushions and Soft Furnishings, is a notorious arm-twister, class warrior, and in the running to be solely responsible for Labour’s forthcoming defeat the General Election.

His latest wheeze is a £300m Broadband Bribe, with the intention of giving any Labour leaning voter even less incentive to aspire to a better life. As often happens with Labour after a few years in power, they’ve retreated into very safe territory; promote the ‘dependency culture’, label all opponents as ‘toffs’, and take it from there. With the country suffering from the longest, deepest recession in history, you’d have imagined somebody at the Treasury would have at least coughed a bit during the Cabinet meeting to discuss handing out free broadband to people in marginal constituencies, but I understand the idea of saying “No” to Ed Balls brings up combinations of genitalia and vice-grips.

Balls’ bullying tactics will doubtlessly see this scheme rolled out just in time to shore up support in time for the election. Never before has “shameless” been more appropriate a word. If this scheme is all about helping the lowest earners, helping children do the best in school, why has it taken 12 years for the only solution to be the giving away of easier access to Facebook and Bejewelled?

If the worsening state of education is not enough – and there’s plentiful examples of the GCSE system becoming mere window dressing for Labour’s doubtful education ‘claims’ – Ed Balls is of course riding a leadership bid horse all the way to the summer. In another desperate move, MPs from smaller Northern constituencies are being arm-twisted against the idea of moving from First Past the Post to Alternative Vote in time for the General Election. This is Balls’ aim to keep as many on-side MPs returned to the Opposition Benches, without the hassle of a fairer voting system or cut in MP numbers getting in the way.

It doesn’t take a flick through a GCSE Politics textbook to see where this idea comes from.

There really is only one shot at getting education right. My personal view on the state controlling schools has been coloured ever since the National Curriculum appeared to clip the wings of every decent teacher in my school – “What, the Romans
again?”. Now education policy has become overtly politicised, school building programmes wrapped up in debt-laden schemes, children forced to take too many exams and generally under achieving. Children unable to even write their own name after 5 years of a Labour government (and this hasn’t got much better) is one of many ‘milestones’ currently along the route leading to Ed Balls’ door.

“Class war” is a tired and extreme tactic often used by desperate members of the left-wing looking for some mud to throw in times of trail. Given the state of school education in this country, I suppose it is not surprising that Labour have not learned the lessons of such electioneering…