A large part of the Tory message at the next election will be ‘don’t let Labour ruin the economy again’. One of the things that will help the Tories make this a topic of the campaign is Ed Balls’s constant desire to defend the record of the last Labour government. As Jonathan noted earlier, when Andrew Neil pointed out that Labour was — contrary to Balls’s earlier denials — running a structural deficit in 2007, Balls got into a long-winded attempt to justify both that and his denial of this point last year.
Ed Miliband’s best political moments come when he runs against both the current government and the last one, when he represents himself as the man to break the consensus of the last two decades. But Balls’s determination to stand up for the economic record of the last Labour government, which is understandable given that it is — in large part — his record, makes this that much harder.