Ed Balls took to his feet today at Labour Party conference in a speech littered with lame gags and over thirty references to ‘the Tories’. Mr Balls, who is often credited as “the most annoying man in politics”, used his speech to rant about his dislike of the Conservatives.
The Tories cut taxes for millionaires and a few married couples. The Tories haven’t really fixed the economy. The Tories sold the Royal Mail “on the cheap”. The Tories can’t decide between Cameron and Boris. The Tories are deeply unpopular… the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories… *deep breath*… the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the bankers, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories… *hold for tepid applause*… the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories, the Tories… and finally conference… THE TORIES!”
It reminded me of that Harry and Paul sketch of BBC Question Time when the last speaker for Labour is called “Ed Silliband”. His only point was to repeat the phrase “the Tories” over and over again until the crowd clapped, which they dully did. Balls used the same trick and it worked a treat.
In the midst of all the bluster there was one very firm commitment… a freeze on ministerial pay.
BOOM, game changer!
Now don’t get me wrong, denying wealthy politicians money is likely to be a popular policy but it’s hard to see how this is a really important issue in these difficult economic times.
When the current government cut ministerial salaries by five percent and then froze them at that level for the duration of the Parliament they saved just £3 million. Ed Balls’ less ambitious proposal will cut the deficit by almost nothing.
Treasury Minister Priti Patel MP claimed the reduction would be “less than one per cent of one per cent.” And still no one is talking about cutting the debt, instead they concentrate on how to grow it more slowly!
Perhaps we should be reassured because Ed Balls went on to claim: “Labour was serious about balancing the books.” He said: “We will need an iron commitment to fiscal discipline, we want the Office for Budget Responsibility to be allowed to independently audit the costing of every spending and tax measure in Labour’s manifesto – and those of the other main parties too.
“A bold reform which the Tories are desperate to block. Because they are running scared from having their own manifesto subject to independent scrutiny. And because David Cameron and George Osborne want to carry on peddling untruths and smears about Labour’s plans. Conference, the next Labour government will get the deficit down.”
Do fiscal discipline and auditing of manifesto claims really constitute a “bold reform” in modern Britain. I sincerely hope not.
Interestingly Balls cited Labour’s refusal to join the Euro as a major success of the last government, whereas failure to quell Eastern European immigration was a mistake. Referencing both of these suggests the party is worried about the challenge posed by UKIP.
He also alluded to his stammer, and there was some evidence of it as he went through the speech. But in reality this speech was a bit of a pointless rant with little new information, if you haven’t seen it already take my advice: don’t bother.
Watch the Harry and Paul Question Time sketch instead, it is superb: