Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Danger of Blinky Balls

Matthew Norman has written the best column of the week in today's Independent. He drops very subtle hints that he might not be Ed Balls' biggest fan...

Cocky, fake, slimy, inelegant, ineloquent, charmless, witless, weird, sinister, glacially cold and luminescently remote, he may be the most chillingly repulsive politician of even this golden generation. If Pixar set out to create a CGI character to embody everything the public has learned to despise about its political class, they'd be thrilled to come up with this lizardy schemer, who may have slipped through a tear in the fabric of space-time himself. Certainly he seems best suited to skulking beneath stone archways, in a purple robe, sibilantly sidling poison into the bloodstream of the medieval Vatican.

For a decade and more, this greyest of eminences has stirred, fixed, briefed and bullied, first to remove Mr Tony Blair; and latterly in the cause – keeping his master in power – that has pushed his party to the edge of the abyss. If he has a political philosophy, it is the domineering, top-down, we-know-best, infantilising statism of Gordon himself, but it's not really about that. For Mr Balls, it is football thug tribalism – a with-us-or-against-us Manichean sensibility next to which Mrs Thatcher seems a proto-Cleggian champion of consensus.

The tribe, small as it may be, is incredibly dangerous for Labour. Leading the provisional wing is Charlie Whelan, who we're told is fixing the chieftainship by using Unite's money and influence to fill safe Labour seats with Blinkyite loyalists (or at worst pliable yeopeople). The propaganda operation is devolved to the amusingly slavish Daily Mirror, while in some subterranean grotto that enchanting smearmeister Damian McBride is said to be stealthily continuing the noble work that brought him to public attention.

If this gruesome cabal hardly strikes you as the A-Team, do not underestimate its power. With Labour traumatised by crushing rejection, they would mobilise on 7 May. Day after day the Mirror would run the Milibanana snap while rubbishing Mr Johnson as Alan Nice-But-Unutterably-Dim and Harriet Harman as a deranged old shrew. Spiteful false rumours about Blinky's rivals will seep through the blogosphere and Twitterati as Mr Balls postured as the great uniter while his Unite trolls execute his plan to divide and conquer.

It will require every ounce of Peter Mandelson's will and cunning to frustrate a show of brutal, machine power politics to turn the least delicate of stomachs, and at just the time Labour would need to be Milk of Magnesia to a bilious electorate on the off-chance of a quick second election. Using the core vote as a Maginot Line, as Mr Balls would instinctively do, would produce a catastrophe more epochal by far than the one under Michael Foot in 1983.

The alternative, far preferable in offering hope of recovery though it is, isn't so peachy either. If Mr Balls thinks he is losing – and assuming that he manages to keep hold of his seat in Yorkshire, which is far from certain – he will threaten his rivals with a Samson Option civil war, because that is his nature. Fight us if you must, will be the message, but know that if we win we will destroy you, and if we lose we will bring the temple down to destroy you at the cost of destroying ourselves. It's the same threat that he and his compadres used to quell at least one Cabinet putsch, and if the Miliband and Johnson livers are as lilyish as ever, it might well work again.

If Labour finishes where the polls put it today, we are in for a staring contest doubling up as a game of ultra-high stakes bluff. To survive as an electable force, alone or as partner in an anti-Tory alliance, it is essential that Mr Balls reverts to form and blinks first. Labour's progressive forces must watch this Weeping Angel like hawks on the all-carrot diet. Take their eyes off him for a second, and he will send the party back almost 30 years to the internecine nightmare that so nearly obliterated it then.

Mandy hardly needs this advice, because he'll have worked it out a year ago, but some of his colleagues perhaps may. Don't look away, don't turn around, don't even blink. Blink and you're dead. Good luck.

Read the full column HERE.


Anonymous said...

"Cocky, fake, slimy, inelegant, ineloquent, charmless, witless, weird, sinister, glacially cold and luminescently remote, he may be the most chillingly repulsive politician of even this golden generation."

I don't get it. Why's he so complimentary about Balls? He shouldn't hold back, he should let it all out.

Mike said...

Perhaps this is why there might be a mutual admiration society with the Lord Mandy of Greater Odious, in the County of Slimeshire.

Anonymous said...

Read that and wondered how much you would quote! A very, very funny (and perceptive) columnist.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Seems a fair description of Labour's most unpopular politician.

Old BE said...

Bring it on!

Stepney said...

"Cocky, fake, slimy, inelegant, ineloquent, charmless, witless, weird, sinister, glacially cold and luminescently remote, he may be the most chillingly repulsive politician of even this golden generation."


The cut out and keep guide to the most dishonest and divisive git ever to clutter up the green benches.

Suggest this quote is delivered by hand to every one of the good people of Outwood and Morley.

Unknown said...

It couldn't happen to a nicer party.

Sean said...

Not a fan, then?

Paddy Briggs said...

Answers my question, posted elsewhere, "What's not to like?" Right or wrong this is terrific polemic writing!

OldSlaughter said...

One of the greatest opening sentences ever.

"Golden Generation"

He is not wrong.

Anonymous said...

I loathe Blinky with a passion and, prior to the election, couldn't imagine anyone I'd be less happy to see on the box.

But that's all changed now, with the Tories wheeling out Philip Hammond for every TV show going. Hammond not only metaphorically but genuinely physically looks down his nose at everyone, oozes the arrogance and entitlement of 'old Tory', and I've yet to see an interview with him where he hasn't repeatedly talked over not only the other guests but also the host.

But, please, do keep wheeling the man out. I'm sure that I'm not the only one to have been turned off the Tories by his oleaginous presence.


Balls represents all that I loathe about so many politicians. Of course, he is the most loathsome. I cannot think of a better reason to vote DC.

Macheath said...

A spuerb specimen of invectived, though you have to admit, the man is a rich source of inspiration. If you'll forgive the liberty...

With apologies to The Who:
Every weekday you’ll see young boys
Playing truant in the mall;
There’s a minister whose job it is
To educate them all.
While initiatives proliferate
Attendance figures fall,
And guess who’s behind it...
Surely you mean Ed Balls.

His hands are on the switches
In the Downing street machine
He employed McBride and Whelan
To keep his own hands clean.
Some slight intimidation
And Brown’s opponents fall,
And guess who’s behind it ...
Surely you mean Ed Balls.

He thinks he’s a wizard of spin and hype and twist.
But Brown’s pet lizard could go and not be missed

Why do you think he does it?
We all know he’s up to no good.

He plays the man of action,
He’s got Gordon in his spell,
So was it Eddie’s faction
That unleashed the force of hell?
Things were getting sticky
Though Alistair stood tall,
And guess who's behind it...
Surely you mean Ed Balls.

'There’s no class war; the policy’s the thing'
But it seems our Ed’s got lots of mud to sling.

With his feet under the table,
He’s aiming for the best.
He climbed up through the Treasury
And now he wants the rest.
He's crazy with ambition;
One day Brown will fall,
And who’ll be behind him?
Surely you mean Ed Balls.

DeceptivelySlow13 said...

Balls really is the personification of all that is wrong with politics. Therefore, whilst I will stay up to watch the results, hoping he will provide the night's "Portillo moment", I will also half be hoping he survives and becomes Labour leader. That way we can all be certain that Labour will disintegrate completely.

Unknown said...

I did wonder at the wisdom of the Tories' "castration" strategy. I can see several reasons not to remove Balls from parliament.

1. He could assist Labour to implode.

2. He might possibly become Labour leader, and he would be even more unelectable than Harriet.

3. It might be cruel to his children if he had more time to spend with them.

(Hopefully I'm wrong about no 3!)


There is a remote risk that he actually becomes Prime Minister. That would leave us saying "Come back, Gordon, all is forgiven." So on balance it would be good to make sure it doesn't happen.

Martin S said...

There must be an award for this article. Surely?