Sir, Ed Balls’s extraordinary interview with you (April 18) is most revealing and provokes a response.
His injunctions about the “indulgent nonsense” of “private briefings against the Labour leader” certainly come from one who is well acquainted with this kind of activity. Such things do discredit politics and take us back to the days of faction and party-within-a-party that were so damaging in the 1980s. As he says, we’ve seen it over this parliamentary recess, as I know to my cost from the totally false briefing (to which he refers) that I am considering running as a “stalking horse” against Gordon Brown. I hope that he’ll do what he can to stamp it out.
His references to “disappointment” resonate. It’s certainly true that many Labour MPs, including myself, are disappointed by policy decisions such as the abolition of the 10p tax rate, the over-bureaucratic and insensitive nature of the post office closure programme, and the problems arising from lack of preparation for a Northern Rock-style economic challenge. These all stem from Treasury positions with which he is very familiar. It’s also true that many, including myself, are disappointed with many aspects of his education policies, of which the most serious is the absence of a coherent and focused reform strategy for the 14-19 curriculum, along the lines of Mike Tomlinson’s proposals.
As far as his remarks about “falling for false prophets” are concerned, I would advise him to examine himself and his own role. He should stop attacking others anonymously or in code and look to his own performance and record.
Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP
This kind of attack is interesting for various reasons
- It is further evidence of the disintegration of the New Labour project
- Charles Clarke isn't beyond doing some very effective off the record briefings himself
- It adds further fuel to the debate about what Clarke's 'endgame' is.
I'd love to be sitting between them at Norwich City FC's final home match against QPR... I suspect it wouldn't be the players they'd be hurling abuse at. It would be each other.
Clarke: You're not singing anymore, you're not singing any-more.
Balls: Who ate all the pies?