Coffee House

Analysis: Ed Balls is right on HS2, wrong on almost everything else

23 September 2013

2:01 PM

23 September 2013

2:01 PM

I will admit to a grudging admiration for Ed Balls. He’s wrong about most things, dangerously so. But his speeches are always well-considered, full of substance and usually part of a strategy that he keeps up for months if not years. For that reason, his speeches are always worth reading. This was a good speech, full of substance and forceful expositions of classic leftist errors. Aside from his bizarre towel joke, here’s what jumped out at me from his speech here at the Labour conference in Brighton:-

1. Back to the 1970s! Balls pledges to reverse reform and return to the pre-Blair Labour. Ed Balls was always against the Blair-era reforms of health and education, and now describes them as Tory ideas which he would abolish. He talks about an ominous free school policy: that Labour would deny parents choice, by banning new schools if there are places to fill in bad ones.

“And conference, we will repeal the damaging and costly Tory privatisation of the NHS. And we will ask: does it really make sense to have separate costly management and bureaucracy for so many separate government departments, agencies, fire services and police forces? And Conference, we won’t pay for new free schools in areas where there are excess school places, while parents in other areas are struggling to get their children into a local school.”

This amounts to a pledge to destroy not just what the coalition have done for public services, but what the Blair government did too.

2. HS2: it’s about Cameron’s ‘vanity’. HS2 is running out of supporterPhase Two Route Of The Proposed HS2 Rail Link Announceds every week: the CBI, the IoD, Vince Cable – Ed Balls, ever the strategist, will see that HS2’s collapse is inevitable. So he’ll want to call for it now. This will dismay its chief advocate, Andrew Adonis, who is running a growth review for Ed Miliband.

“Under this government the High Speed 2 project has been totally mismanaged and the costs have shot up to £50 billion.  David Cameron and George Osborne have made clear they will go full steam ahead with this project – no matter how much the costs spiral up and up. They seem willing to put their own pride and vanity above best value for money for the taxpayer. Labour will not take this irresponsible approach. So let me be clear, in tough times – when there is less money around and a big deficit to get down – there will be no blank cheque from me as a Labour Chancellor for this project or for any project. Because the question is – not just whether a new High Speed line is a good idea or a bad idea, but whether it is the best way to spend £50 billion for the future of our country.”

3. The ‘harsh, deep cuts’ canard. Both Ed Balls and George Osborne pretended that the cuts were radical and deep; neither would quantify them because neither wanted to admit that they totalled less than 1 per cent a year. Ed Miliband has discouraged this rather mendacious critique, but Balls is out to claim vindication:-

“They claimed in 2010 that faster tax rises and deeper spending cuts would secure the economic recovery and make it stronger…They didn’t secure the recovery, they choked it off – as we warned – and flatlined our economy for three wasted and damaging years.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.18.19


4.     “Something which would not have happened without Labour votes in Parliament, the progressive triumph of gay marriage” Odd that Balls feels the need to claim joint ownership of Cameron’s gay marriage bill when I’d argue that the real landmark was New Labours’ Civil Partnerships Act. Cameron just reworded this. He re-enacted a battle that Tony Blair fought, with minimum of upset, ten years ago. But of course, that victory was under Blair, so I suppose Balls would rather pretend that didn’t happen and credit the Tories instead.

5.    But much of his attack is solid. The facts do support the following accusations, and it’s no good conservatives dismissing the message because they loathe the messenger. Osborne’s record is wider, and hopefully there’ll be something to boast about by 2015. But it does, alas, contain the defects that Balls mentions below:-

“Let us remind [the Tories] : prices rising faster than wages for 38 out of the 39 months since David Cameron entered Downing Street. Three years of flatlining..  The slowest recovery for over a hundred years A million young people out of work

Welfare spending soaring. More borrowing to pay for their economic failure. That is their economic record. And we will not let them forget it.

The below graph shows what he means: real salaries are low, and getting lower. Not much good talking about a GDP recovery while this is going on.Real earnings CPI deflated £

7. Wrong about welfare

Building on the success of Labour’s Future Jobs Fund – so short-sightedly scrapped by this government – we will introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed. We will fund this by a repeat of the tax on bank bonuses and by restricting pension tax relief for the very highest earners to the same rate as the average taxpayer. And we will work with employers to make sure there will be a paid job for all young people out of work for more than 12 months and adults out of work for two years or more, which people will have to take up or lose benefits. That is welfare reform that works. When people get into work they should always be better off – it should always pay more to be in work than on benefits. So we must do more to make work pay. The national minimum wage is one of Labour’s proudest achievements.

Another jobs guarantee? Labour would propose these kinds of ‘guarantees’ in government and they didn’t work. Balls is right to say that work should always pay – but constantly mucking about with benefits and schemes creates a complex web which ensnares the poor. Only Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit  would repair this – an ambitious product, certainly, but a much-needed one. Higher minimum wage is a bad tool that doesn’t work: it risks pricing the low-skilled out of jobs, tax claims back what employers are forced to fork out and you can still be better-off on welfare. In reaching for these old, broken levers Balls shows he is unserious about tackling poverty.

7. The trickle-down myth

 “We cannot succeed as a country with this ‘race to the bottom’, deregulation, laissez-faire and old-style ‘trickle-down economics’. It’s a narrow and defeatist vision. Doomed to fail. And we have seen it fail before.”

Actually, he hasn’t seen trickle-down economics before. No one has, as it does not exist. Not a single professional economist has ever said they believe in it. It’s a bogey man, concocted by the likes of Balls. The left love attacking this non-existent theory, yet the point about capitalism is that wealth trickles up. The guy who sets up a company is usually the last to benefit: after customers, staff hired, customers served etc are always the first. But this is all part of Balls’ peculiar 1970s economics, which he threatens to bring back.

I know that CoffeeHousers dislike Ed Balls rather intensely. The fact that his analysis of living standards is correct is even greater cause for alarm: this time, he’s not making it up. His towel joke (that I blogged about earlier) may detract attention the more sinister implications of his speech. It was a powerful reminder that the stakes at the next election are very high indeed.

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Show comments
  • 6and8pence

    If only it were Ball’s own idea. This is all the new spin doctor Patrick Hennessey at work.

  • dalai guevara

    Oh dear, the latest Spectator cover and my avatar show striking similarities.
    Who is this Balls chap, do you seriously believe he will make it past 2015, given his lifestyle choice of opting for an increasingly weighty diet and the odd selection of barber?

  • vtiman

    Analysis: Ed Balls is wrong on HS2, right on almost everything else
    There I have fixed the headline to what it should read.

    Ed is trying to show that Labour will be more careful with spending if elected so thatis why he is saying there will be no blank cheque for hs2. He is also saying that labour would not rubberstamp any decisions made by the current government and would hold a review if elected. This is normal and it is indeed what the current govt did when they were elected only to then go ahead with Crossrail, IEP, Thameslink, the wcml franchise and of course HS2.

    Ed may also be concerned as his wife’s constituency appears to be close to the proposed route. Or maybe I am just cynical.
    Anyway, in no way is this Labour stating they would not go ahead with HS2. The fact that Ed says they would review it in 2015 indicates to me that he is expecting the hs2 bill due later this year to pass with Labour support.

  • rtj1211

    Let’s be clear: whatever your position is or is not about HS2, its costs are NOT ‘rocketing’. A very significant ‘contingency’ exists in the £50bn budget – £14bn. There is also £8bn costs for rolling stock, which makes the residual cost i.e. the projected cost without using the contingency, to buy the land and build the railway and supporting infrastructure, at £28bn. That money would be spent over 16 years, which is about £2.25bn a year + whatever of the contingency is used. If you can explain to me how that is more expensive than Crossrail, about which not one complaint has been aired by NIMBYs, ditto for Thameslink.

    There is a very ugly, dissembling, manipulative debate about this project and I for one would give Ed Balls such a flaying on live television for him having said this, challenging him to kill his children if were not telling the whole truth (which he would have to do if he refused to recant) and then telling him to resign for being a lying liar for electoral purposes.

    The man is a very, very arrogant twister who thinks that because he is the shape of a rugby forward that no-one will flay him alive.

    Well: it’s about time someone did.

    Argue this case on its merits, solely on its merits and tell the truth.

    If you dont’ or won’t, cant or can’t understand why you should; RESIGN.

    Be you a politician, an editor, a journalist or a civil servant.

    The only way you serve the public on this is to STOP LYING.

  • Mynydd

    What I don’t understand why some find difficult to read a simple graph. So let me try for them. From the graph Real DEL / AME 2013-14 prices (£bn)
    Year 2004-05 departmental spending £340 overall £600
    Year 2012-13 departmental spending £380 overall £700
    The translation of this is: spending during the middle years of the last government was lower than the spending during middle years of the present government.
    Year 2009- 10 departmental spending £410 overall £720
    Year 2014-15 departmental spending £380 over all £710
    The calculation show in 5 years the government has reduced departmental spending by 7.3% and overall spending spending by 1.4%
    From the graph Real average weekly earning , Dec 2012 prices
    2008 Q1 £575: 2010 Q1 £560: 2012 Q1 £525
    From the peak in 2008 (before the banking crisis) to 2012 the fall in earnings have fallen by £50 of which £45 has been during the life of the present government. The trend after 2012 Q1 is down, that is, a further reduction in real average weekly earnings.
    These are the bare facts and figures, put on them whatever political spin you want.

    • telemackus

      I learnt a long time ago never to waste time explaining complex issues to an idiot. Cutting and pasting without understanding is a foolish pastime.

  • Robert Taggart

    NO2 HS2 – from a Northern Anorak – who hates Balls !

  • sarahsmith232

    so what is the alternative response to the trickle down thing? that it’s gov’ intervention that ensures capitalism benefits all? I’ve heard this TDE is rubbish thing many times, never understood it, always thought these were all your extremist Marxist’s that say that. I always thought that it was the same thinking as the ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ and it did.
    anyone got an answer? thanks

  • Colin Forbes

    Ed Balls is the Labour politician that the Tories should be most wary of. If he ever became leader, he’d chew the posh boys to pieces. It’s my prediction that Miliband E. will never make it into Downing Street – but Balls just might. Sweet dreams, everyone!

    • fubar_saunders

      He’s no less a posh boy himself. Think if he tried that he’d have his a**e handed to him on a plate. Regularly.

  • fehtgrjtrhytty

    helps us if Ed Balls and Labour get into power

    Sign petition for UKIP to participate in the 2015 TV General
    Election Debates, nearly 23,000 have already signed

  • anyfool

    HS2 is a firm promise made to the northern MP`s and it will be honoured regardless of cost.

  • Peter Collins

    The worst article I have ever read, bar none. An embarrassment for The Spectator.

  • dogfive

    “I know that CoffeeHousers dislike Ed Balls rather intensely. The fact that his analysis of living standards is correct is even greater cause for alarm: this time, he’s not making it up.”

    Well fine, but why must Osborne bear the brunt of the blame for the inevitable period of stagflation that followed another disastrous Labour government? Chief architect of the previous Labour government’s ruinous policies? Why, Ed Balls, of course: one of the most dishonest, corrosive and vicious members of the left wing political species ever to have conned his way into power.

    Osborne must make sure that the blame for the catastrophic effects of Brown’s and Ball’s noughties spending bonanza, paid for with funny money from banks they deregulated and then ignored for a decade, and borrowing, is placed firmly at their door. Since Balls is the one who seeks power again now, and not Brown (apparently), he must not be allowed to lie and wriggle and twist this around and get himself off the hook.

    Living standards are dropping, yes. But this is one of the long term effects of his disastrous polices while in office. Fraser, oddly, seems to have forgotten that, mainly because Fraser doesn’t really like Osborne. I would remind him that criticising Osborne for not cutting hard enough is one thing – it’s a matter of serious debate.

    But letting Balls off so lightly is tantamount to journalistic negligence – and brooks no argument. But he is in danger of doing just that with equivocating, rushed pieces like the one above.

    • arnoldo87

      Once again the same old criticism of the last Labour government’s economic record – and of course it is based on a myth.

      Labour’s economic record up until the end of 2007 – the last year before the banking crisis – was actually very good. The key indicators such as unemployment, inflation, debt, and budget deficit were just as good then as those that they inherited in 1997, and in between there were 10 years of continuous growth that allowed New Labour to salvage the wreckage of the Tories’ education and NHS infrastructure.

      Of course there were many mistakes, such as the very poorly negotiated PFI deals, but overall their one big policy failure was not regulating the banks tightly enough. Still – hindsight is a wonderful thing and the Tories never criticised Labour’s regulation policy except to say it was altogether too tight.

      The only surprising thing is that Miliband, Balls and company have not set out to robustly defend the Labour record of 1997-2007, and seem to be happy to take all the usual claptrap on the chin.. As such they probably deserve to lag behind the Tories in the economic competence polls, and it is this fact that may scupper their chances in 2015.

      • ButcombeMan

        The biggest mistake was imagining, along with millions of others, that the boom was permanent and had substance to it, remember Brown with his “no more boom and bust”. It is hardly surprising that living standards for many people, are having to fall as we rebalance.

        Brown was economically illiterate, Balls also.

        Brown never had suficient intellect to be safely put in charge of the economy. It is a disgrace and a major failure by Blair that he never moved Brown on.

        • arnoldo87

          Another piece of second hand opinion, born of right-wing brainwashing.
          Give us some facts to back up your case – otherwise it’s all so much fluff.

      • Hilton Holloway

        Sorry, but Labour was borrowing £40bn in 2007/08 (and borrowed in every year from 2000, despite booming tax revenues).

        Labour expanded state spending way beyond even the ability of an overheated economy to keep up. Using GDP as a disguise is BS: GDP was boosted artificially by the banking booming, the housing boom, equity withdrawal and government borrowing.

        The phrase is ‘house of cards’.

        • arnoldo87

          The facts are the facts (see above) and are the standard set of economic indicators. Perhaps you have some other measure of economic competence that the rest of us haven’t yet seen?
          It would be good to see the numbers attached to it for all governments since the war.
          And the phrase you are looking for is ” Irresponsible bankers”

      • orsonhinds

        Lo and behold, up pops the standard, ultra-revisionist and totally dishonest Ballsian defense of Brown’s appalling record. Brown inherited a golden legacy and it took him a decade to destroy it completely and then, just for good measure, he attempted to derail any possible recovery by ‘locking in’ gargantuan levels of overspending.

        That ‘arnoldo87’, some sort of party worker who like to call the truth ‘claptrap’, chose to answer dogfive’s comment strikes me as meaning that dogfive is on to something pretty sensitive: Labour is still very vulnerable on the economy.

        I trust the Tories will systematically and robustly demolish any further attempt by the Labour party under its current management (or any other management for that matter) to claim it can be trusted with the British economy, or any other aspect of Britain for that matter – including and especially health and education.

        • arnoldo87

          Here are the figures for the “Golden Economic Legacy” of 1997:-

          Inflation 2.34%; Debt 42%: Deficit 3.5%: Unemployment 7.5%

          Equivalent figures for 2007, AFTER the refurbishment of the NHS and educational infrastructure:-

          Inflation 2.85%: Debt 36%: Deficit 2.2%: Unemployment 5.3%

          So there are the facts, rather than the obfuscation. Any objective person would agree that the 2007 figures, as a set, are superior to the “Golden Economic Legacy” of 1997.

          So, in fact, it would be very difficult for the Tories to systematically demolish this record by using the actual data.

          Luckily for them, though, they don’t need to – Labour are so inept at arguing their own case that your sort of data-less bluster is enough.

      • e2toe4

        That last paragraph is like the all the demented defeated in every aggressive war in history saying how great everything went for ages, and only went wrong right at the end.

        The ‘great stuff’ wasn’t disconnected from the final catastrophic few years 07-10; the catastrophe was inherent in the earlier years, and the mistakes made after the first couple of ‘stick to Tory spending plans’ years, relentlessly increased the likelihood AND size of the eventual smash up.

        This was the result of not only being “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” for a number of years, but also being intensely relaxed about just about anything to do with how to engineer it.

        Interestingly, that quote came in 1998 in a wider discussion about the prospect of Britain nurturing it’s own ‘silicon valley’… but while the US under the hapless George W created Amazon, facebook, Google, Twitter, Ebay and the rest since then—AND a massive bank bust…all we managed in the same period under our own golden generation of economic pub genuises was the massive bank bust.

        • arnoldo87

          The final “catastrophic few years” were connected like a Siamese twin to the banking crisis – which surprised all of the political world.

          • e2toe4

            Absolutely….. The ‘no-one saw it coming’ and ‘it was a worldwide crisis’ are both feeble excuses attempting to rewrite reality.

            The two Eds were bang at the centre of all that with Gordon Brown .

            The way they have tried to evade responsibility is one of the most egregious examples of the kind of thing that is leading to the withering of respect for the traditional political process.

            The captain of the Titanic at least went down with the ship…Ed Balls has just grabbed the best seat in the lifeboat and started berating the shivering passengers for not having seen the iceberg and warned him about it.

            • arnoldo87

              1. Please give me evidence of anyone in the political world who DID see it coming.
              2. Do you think that New Labour’s economic performance was influential enough to cause the USA and many other nations to go into headlong recession? If not, we can conclude it was a worldwide crisis.

              • e2toe4

                I don’t accept that ‘not seeing something coming’ is some kind of absolution from responsibility for something happening.

                I don’t accept either that it was a worldwide crisis that overwhelmed the poor innocents in Canary Wharf and Wall street. I feel it was a crisis definitely “Made and designed in New York and London” and only became a worldwide crisis because these two centres are so influential in the globalised financial system.

                The major factor seems to have been a failure of regulation…but effective regulation is ultimately about who creates the system, appoints the principal regulators and then monitors their performance, and that’s the government.

                Sticking to the Titanic analogy…one can say nobody predicted it sinking or pointed out it had too few lifeboats..

                But once it HAS sunk , even though no-one saw that coming, one can’t just say the Captain and ship designers weren’t responsible …. was the iceberg that was to blame.

                • arnoldo87

                  I agree with your comments above. Labour does indeed bear some responsibility for the banking crisis by their lack of tight regulation.

                  My original post, though, was to counter the propaganda that Labour has a poor record of economic competence as opposed to the Tories, who always have to clean up Labour’s mess.

                  New Labour’s record over the first ten years was just as good, if not better, than Major’s government (see the figures below).
                  Added to that is the fact that the Tories were even slacker on bank regulation than were Labour during those ten years.

                  So the mantra “Labour bad – Tories good” on economic competence is claptrap

                • e2toe4

                  I totally agree with that, it is far too simplistic a view.

                  But the particularly sharp point for someone my age is that New Labour didn’t (rightly) just drop the inconvenient vote losing detritus such as Clause 4 and the rest…. they dropped the lot, and then some..

                  With New Labour there was a kind of convictionless, conviction-lite vacuum that served to create a weird, distracted attitude for years, during which oil drums, gas tanks, ammo boxes and paraffin cans were carelessly stacked up on all sides of the room in which the fire was burning.

                  So that when it all went off, it all went properly off —

                  The only successful socialist policy —- in an era in which the socialist party seemingly didn’t dare utter the word — was the socialising of a debt mountain so huge we still can’t see the top without a radio telescope.

  • HookesLaw

    How can Ed Balls be so wrong on ‘everything’ but mysteriously right when he hops on Mr Nelson’s hobby horse?
    And this when he wanted it in govt but suddenly when he spots the passing band waggon…
    How convenient.

  • s_o_b

    I am a Conservative voter (well, up to now anyway) in a solidly Conservative constituency and one of the many many thousands of homeowners who will be effectively unable to move house for the next 15-20 years and who will have the value of their principle financial asset reduced by at least 30% because I live about 600m from the proposed HS2 route and so not within the compensation zone of around 120m.

    Given that HS2’s first consultation on compensation was found to be so flawed as to be unlawful, I don’t see any evidence now that compensation will not be as limited and as miserly as it is possible to be.

    It is more than slightly ironic that I am now reliant on the Labour architect of much of the nation’s ruin to be my personal saviour.

    #screweduppolitics anyone?

    • anyfool

      If you think for one minute that Labour after the election will not press on right up to Scotland with HS2 regardless of cost do not be surprised, this entire scheme is and was a payback for Labour support in the north, it is a promise that will be honoured and if at the same time upsets lots of Tory voters so much the better for the likes of Balls and co.

      • e2toe4

        Will they still if Scotland is an independent Salmondland and a whole legion of seats has disappeared in the process?

        Will they a) get into power and b) be as keen to push on if they do still manage it?

  • Robert_Eve

    The ‘progressive triumph of gay marriage’ – pass the sick bag.

  • madasafish

    All this about living standards is true but it hides a great difference: Living standards are NOW falling less for private sector employees where wage rises in 2013 are running at c 2% whilst in the public sector 1%..So what Ed is complaining about is really the much needed reduction in public sector wages vs private…which went out of kilter during 1997-2010…

  • Colonel Mustard

    What a duplicitous, scheming gang of criminals. The NSDAP of 21st Century British politics. Cameron and Clegg might be stupid and irritating but the unmitigated evil that walks amongst us is the Labour party.

  • Alex

    Ed Balls is plainly a fan of high spending and big government, with no love (or understanding) of economic liberalism or free-market economics.
    So just like Osborne then.

  • Hello

    I wouldn’t really like to be Balls to be honest. There’s something cold and calculating about Miliband’s protracted approach to getting rid of him, and the way he’s allowed Reeves and Umunna to take the lead on the economy before Balls is even out of his job. Miliband has form on this kind of thing though, his brother and Damian McBride being the documented episodes.

    • telemackus

      And I wouldn’t like to be Yvette having the fat oaf do to me what he and his criminal cohorts did to the country.

      • fubar_saunders

        i recall a quote from a “girlfriend” of Nicholas Soames saying that making out with him was like having a wardrobe between your legs with the key still in it. Probably not a world away from what its like in the Blinky Balls household.

  • realfish

    ‘The fact that his analysis of living standards is correct is even greater cause for alarm’

    The fall in living standards is hardly surprising given the size of the hole that the economy is attempting to climb out of. And lets not forget that this isn’t new, this stagnation has been with us since the mid 00’s.

    And Balls is further comforted in that Fraser, Flanders, Blanchflower and others agree ‘with his analysis’ that there has been a painfully slow recovery. Well blow me down! First prize for stating the bleedin’ obvious. Just why is this such a surprise when other economists were telling us that such was the appalling size of the UK’s economic collapse, it would take half a generation for the country to recover.

    Of course Balls would like us to believe that things, under his stewardship, would have been so much better. But he has the luxury of not having his economic plan B stress-tested against the realities of the continuing Eurozone crises since 2010, and their impact on the UK.

    Sadly no one (Fraser included) seems particularly interested in challenging this, and Balls is allowed get away with his opportunistic tripe.

    • HookesLaw

      The alternative is to maintain living standards at the expense of employment. Not long ago Balls was saying we must spread the pain around and when that pain is indeed spread – he complains.
      His whole argument about ‘living standards is bogus. Has he seen the figures for car sales?

  • toco10

    Ed Balls is not a fit and proper person to hold public office.Everyone gets something right during a whole lifetime but this friend of McBride has no place on any respectable stage.Good riddance to the son of the dysfunctional Brown.

    • Shazza

      He is a bully and a thug. Labour filth.

    • Colin Forbes

      He may well not be a ‘fit and proper person to hold public office’ but that’s not going to stop him or anyone else in the same category.

  • well_chuffed

    Perhaps Balls is rather miffed that the coalition will not have sorted out the deficit by the time of the next election despite having at least implied that they would have done. Historically , Labour need to inherit a functioning economy so that they can start spraying money up the wall again.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    Excellent fisking of Balls. You however missed this

    “Getting young people into work and ending the scourge of long-term unemployment once and for all”

    Yep, a promise of no more long-term unemployment under Labour

    • Russell

      And another own goal by Balls. He said youth unemployment at almost a million is utterly disgraceful……What was it when Labour left office in 2010?….almost a million! after rising by its fastest rate ever during labour years!

      • jp99

        Indeed – and at 40% in rural areas, to boot.

  • Shinsei1967

    Balls’ point about living standards is of course superficially correct. Following a massive recession, rise in oil price and a 20% fall in sterling it is hardly surprising that wages have flat-lined (though on the whole jobs have been maintained) and prices in the shops gone up.

    However there is more to living standards than just “wages rising less quickly than retail prices”. What about people paying less tax on those wages ? Or having very much cheaper mortgages to service thanks to low interest rates ? Or all those non-wage earners, like pensioners, who have seen their state pensions rise in line with inflation ?

    • jp99

      “A weak currency is a sign of a weak government” (or words to that effect)

      James Gordon Brown.

      On the McBride vileness

      “I take full responsibility for this matter, and have sacked the person responsible”
      (or words to that effect)

      James Gordon Brown.

      Ed Balls. Mini James Gordon Brown.

      Good to see that Labour’s (and the teaching union’s) intense distaste for parental choice in education has been stated loud and clear.