X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

Ed Balls: ‘There is no blank cheque for HS2’

23 August 2013

4:13 PM

23 August 2013

4:13 PM

Labour could use HS2 as an opportunity to show voters that it is fiscally responsible by announcing that as the project’s costs have spiralled out of control, it cannot back it. So runs the argument in favour of Ed Miliband dropping his party’s support for the project. The party’s transport shadow Maria Eagle has insisted today that high-speed rail remains a manifesto commitment for Labour, but Ed Balls has appeared on BBC News to drop what many are reading as some fairly heavy hints that his own support isn’t quite so rock-solid.

[Alt-Text]


Here is the transcript of what he said:

‘We have consistently supported plans for a new north-south rail link, but it’s got to work, it has got to be value for money. As Alistair said today, the government’s approach to this has been completely chaotic. He’s drawn one conclusion… I think the best way for me to say that to you Carol is there’s no blank cheque from a Labour treasury for HS2, it’s got to be value for money. If the case is not strong enough, if you don’t see the gains, if as we’ve seen in recent weeks and months, the cost going up and up and up, that’s something which we have to keep under review. Value for money is the test, it’s got to work, there’s no blank cheque. Alistair has drawn one conclusion which is he’s withdrawn his support. We say, let’s keep examining this case. The government has been totally chaotic, they’ve lost control of the costs, and that is a real concern.

There will be no blank cheque from a Labour Treasury for this project or any other project. Public spending has to be disciplined in its control, we have to make sure that every pound is spent wisely, that’s what good governments do, that’s what I will do as the shadow chancellor and as chancellor and that applies to HS2 as much as to any other project. The costs have been spiralling up, they’ve got to get a grip, this has been totally chaotic, there’s no blank cheque, it has got to be value for money, the case has got to be made.’

The first thing worth noting is that Ed Balls clearly arrived at the BBC studios in Leeds, where he conducted the interview, intending to get across the phrase ‘no blank cheque’ because he said it four times. That doesn’t mean he wants to push for Labour to drop its support. It could just mean that he wants to cultivate a hawkish image for Labour on public spending and waste. Either way, Balls clearly scents that this is a political opportunity for his party because the project is getting out of hand, rather than a good sell to Labour’s core vote in the North of England.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close