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Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Oliver Campbell
Image © ASNEdBallsDenton10 MP Ed Balls, visits Denton Labour Club (Fri 2nd July) , to meet Labour Party members, to drum up support for his bid to become the next leader of the party. He was invited by his Labour Party collegue & friend Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton & Reddish. As well as addressing the members he took part in a Q & A session. Story - Tom Rowley. Photo - Harry Potts.


Prime Minister’s Questions: Ed Balls reflects Labour’s problem

So today was the day, the last Prime Minister’s Questions of the year. And in typical festive spirit David Cameron made sure that he had the worst Christmas related insult on show.  The Prime Minister described to Ed Miliband that ‘you don’t need it to be Christmas to know when you’re sitting next to a Turkey’, the Turkey in this instance being Ed Balls due to the recent revelation that Balls has been given nine months to save his job.

Despite this insult hitting new levels of cringe though, it is a well-placed one. Balls is reportedly on the verge of being plucked out of the front bench because of an inability to create an economic policy that can match the coalitions. Labour in recent times have managed to strike a chord with a wide section of the public thanks to policies such as their energy price freeze. However when it comes to the economy the coalition have maintained a clear direction, and recent figures suggest that their approach is paying off.

The Bank of England has continually missed their inflation target of 2% this year, resulting in a noticeable gap between inflation and real wages. However the latest inflation figure was at 2.1%, showing that they had again missed their target but only by a fraction. This is good news and it has led to the OBR to forecast that in the second half of 2014 wages will finally outpace the rate of inflation.

Ed Miliband did manage to score some points off David Cameron by pushing forward his cost of living crisis and the impact it is having on childcare services. However with the economy continually on the mend it does seem that it is only a matter of time before people will begin to feel the recovery for themselves. Importantly as well, all David Cameron has to do is to point towards how Labour presided over the worst recession in 100 years, in order to evidence the ‘tough decisions’ his government have had to make.

The threat to Ed Balls’ position consequently reflects a problem within the whole of the Labour party. I said in my PMQs blog a few weeks ago that Labour’s cost of living strategy was a powerful one. However if the government continue to improve the economy, this crisis, that is Labour’s main point of attack, will start to mend. This will leave Labour in an extremely weak position and will greatly damage any hopes of succeeding in the next election.

Labour therefore need to establish a clear direction in order to make a credible challenge at the next election. At Labour’s party conference Ed Miliband announced an energy price freeze that seemed to hark back to Labour’s core socialist ideology. This initially gained widespread support, helped by the fact that the coalition failed to act themselves to counter the decision of the energy companies. However since then Labour have faltered, and I believe that this is due to them lacking other policies similar to their energy price freeze.

Recently it was announced that banker’s bonuses have returned to the extremely high levels seen before the recession, so why not commit to pushing forward a tax such as the ‘Robin Hood Tax’? Not only would it prove popular, but it would also show that Ed Miliband, unlike David Cameron, is not scared to take on big businesses.

Labour lost this round today, however if their new years resolution is to commit to the direction outlined at their party conference, they will really start to make steps forward.

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About the Author

Oliver Campbell

Oliver is from Harrow and has just graduated from the University of Leicester with a degree in History. He is now volunteering at Catch21 Productions and is particularly interested in welfare policy and the influence of the media.

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