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The Unexpurgated Ed Balls

John Rentoul

28 ed balls 451383t The Unexpurgated Ed BallsEd Balls was interviewed on Friday by my good colleague Matt Chorley for today’s Independent on Sunday. Apart from the bit where he said he had not just arrived from Mars, which I do not think he meant as an insult to the Milibands, I was most interested in his criticism of Gordon Brown for brooding over the succession for so long:

There are certain things you learn in life. One of which is never ever to spend your whole time thinking about a job you haven’t got, that’s an important lesson I have learned.

I have also written about why I do not think that Balls will be shadow chancellor, whichever brother wins the leadership. Still waiting for YouGov to put the detailed tables up for its new poll of Labour Party members and Labour-supporting trade unionists, which in effect shows a dead heat between Ed and David Miliband. It looks as if the result is going to be closer than I thought.

But here is the full transcript of the Balls interview.

Q: It’s not long to go until voting closes. Are you still swinging votes?

Oh, we know we are. That’s why we are keeping going all the way through the weekend and in to next week with Manchester Monday. I think Labour Party members have taken longer because they know it’s a big choice and they want to hear what we are saying. There’s no doubt that going to the meetings from my point of view shifts people but also the stuff we have done in the last couple of weeks, the speech to Bloomberg, announcements on housing, on jobs, on the economy, there is no doubt that it has struck a chord with Labour Party members who want an alternative.

There’s been a bit of an attempt for the last month or so to say it’s a two horse race and only two people who can win it. I don’t believe that is true. With apologies to Tony Blair who would roll his eyes when I say this, I am determined to show there’s a third way.

Q. How much of problem has it been for you, fight broken into three groups, Milibands, then Balls, then Andy and Diane?

Any time when there’s five people, it’s a lot of people. On the platform at the big hustings of course that’s the case. Early on in the first few weeks it was hard for me because to begin with everybody was looking backwards. I think people are looking backwards much less now, I think they are more forward thinking: Who actually is the best person to take on David Cameron, who is the best person for the next election, who is the best person for the future?

Steve Richards said I was the candidate who was most effectively moving on from the Blair and Brown of the past. I think to be honest David and Ed have been a bit stuck in that. Having a debate about is it the New Labour establishment, is it the New Labour comfort zone, are we learning lessons from the past? I feel it’s a bit sterile really. There wasn’t a single person at the election campaign who ever said, ‘Ed I’m not voting Labour this time because you’re stuck in a comfort zone.’ They said, ‘I’m worried my job’, or housing queues, or, ‘I’m worried about what’s going on locally with public services.’ It’s those issues which I have been trying to get on to.

Q. Has there been a sense that Ed and David is just Gordon and Tony, fighting an old battle?

I think there has been a bit of that. The fundamental thing that we hear Labour Party members saying is that they look at the other candidates and say they’re not the whole article. They don’t say my head thinks they can do it, my heart says they would do it the way I’d like. We went through a strange phase a couple of weeks ago where you had newspaper editorials saying couldn’t we have merger but actually, that’s not the real world. You have got to choose who actually is the candidate that your head and your heart says can do the job.

I think the reason why the hustings, the TV debates, the campaign – when people say I have fought the best campaign, I think it’s because we’ve got the best team and partly because we have chosen to go on the big issues for now and the future. When people think about it I am the most complete of us in terms of campaigning policy but also the sort of resilience. You have to be quite tough to come through this. Lots of people wanted to write me off, but I wasn’t ever going to let them,. There are going to be lots of times in the next two or three years when the next leader of the Labour party, some people in the press will write the off. But it is possible to blast through that and get to the public that you have got the grit and the skill to do it.

Q: Whoever wins the leadership, it is the first battle. The really big battle is the general election, which could be five years off.

I will support whoever wins, and if it is me, I know the other candidates will as well. But I do think its really important for those people who are still trying to decide, it is important to look forward and think who is the best person up against David Cameron for the future. Who can set out the most credible alternative to the public? The worst thing for the Labour Party would be in a year’s time to look back and say, we made the wrong choice, because we didn’t think it through, and we rushed too fast, and there are times in political parties, I think it happened after 1997, happened to Labour after 1979 where the party chooses a leader based upon the past, and then regrets it.

I hope we have had long enough – I don’t know if we have had long enough – in this leadership election – to get through the phase where people look backwards and that they are not really looking back saying why did we make the wrong choice.

I want them to make the right choice and the reason I am in this is I think I am the right choice.

Nick Clegg’s position has declined because of what he did, but Michael Gove’s position has declined because we have exposed the intellectual flaws and the chaos in his department. I think David Cameron and Nick Clegg are just as vulnerable as Michael Gove, and Geo0rge Osborne too.

Q: What do you really think of Michal Gove, there’s not a lot of love lost between you is there?

To be honest I’ve always… I have never been the kind of politician who at the end of the afternoon slaps an opponent on the back and says lets go off for a Pimms. That’s not how I have ever done it. I come from a different place politically. I think there is respect but we’re not mates, and I don’t think people would expect that. When I look at the last two or three years, I think that David Cameron, and Michael Gove and George Osborne as well, have been very personal with the way they try to do politics. Very personal about me, and about Gordon and about others. They almost didn’t want the issue to be policy, they wanted it to be personality.

Michael Gove has always been personal about me, I have never responded in kind. That’s not how I have done politics. I have never gone out of my way to make personal remarks about them. But I would is set out that they are making the wrong judgments on policy. I’m afraid Michael Gove has been exposed, because what he was good at in opposition was sort of writing a 900-word sketch which was funny, and humorous and a bit barbed. But government is not about being s sketch writer. It is not about the words, it’s about the actions you take and whether you can answer the questions.

Michael Gove has not been able to answer any questions in the House of Commons and he has not been able to explain what he is doing. And he has made these huge claims — 1,000 academies, 700 free schools — and he has not delivered.

To manage simultaneously to make your department look chaotic, your policy agenda stalled and unite hundreds of thousands of parents and children across the whole country in being angry at what you’re doing… there’s no local newspaper that has not written a news story about Michael Gove’s botched handling of Building Schools for the Future. It’s quite a record. In three months.

Q: Has Gove’s reputation been knocked solely down to his mistakes or you hammering away at him?

I think its down to partly him running ahead of himself, thinking he could move fast, quick legislation, big cuts, when he hadn’t done the work and thought it through. I think its partly to do with the fact we have been pretty relentless. But it is fundamentally that the plan was flawed and not supported by the public.

Because the public wants us to cut waste but they don’t want us to cancel their schools. They want us to get the deficit down but not if it risks hundreds of thousands of jobs in the private construction sector. Lots of people have been saying why are they doing this, it’s flawed.Certainly on the schools agenda, people are saying, ‘Well I want a good local school but I don’t want to run it myself.’ Why are they going to take buildings and money away from our school and give it to another school down the road – that’s not fair?

Fundamentally good opposition is about hammering and debating, but fundamentally it’s about can you establish a public critique of what has been done, and win support for your alternative. That’s what I have shown we can do on schools, that’s what we have got to do on the NHS but above all by far we have got to do it on the economy and the deficit and the funding of public services.

I have had more success than anyone expected on the economy in the past few weeks than anybody, more than probably on the schools agenda. To get to the point when you can get Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson …it is an unlikely alliance. I was pleased to get The Guardian columnist on the economy, but the Financial Times columnist also, Martin Wolf.

The lesson of history for Labour, is that if we don’t have the confidence and the credibility to stake out a view and instead run along with the consensus, then we end up not having any distinction or cut through. I think that’s what happened with the Exchange Rate Mechanism ERM, and we showed on the euro that actually you can take a distinctive view and its OK. That’s what I have been doing.

Q: You made one of the biggest statements on the economy of all the candidates, other announcements have come back to the economy, how significant is that in making you look heavyweight?

We’ll see. It will depend upon, is there enough time to translate that into first preference votes. I want people voting for other candidates to give me their second preference but I also want them to give me their first preference. All those Members of Parliament who are saying I’ve fought a brilliant campaign, and that means as an MP or party member I’m not going to listen to the media view which says only a vote for the Milibands counts. Unless I can break out of that, then its not enough.

At the same time, who would have thought three months ago that Labour could have set out a plan, £6bn plan for 100,000 for houses, three quarters of million more jobs, and people would say this is sensible, as opposed to irresponsible? I have managed to do it with credibility. That’s a big deal for the Labour Party.

Q: Why do people say you’ve socked it to the Tories, socked it to Gove and yet it’s still seen as a two-horse race?

I think there’s a little bit of, if you are the features editor on a Saturday, the Cain and Able story is easier to lay out on the page. It fits a very convenient personality-driven narrative. There’s no doubt about that. But I’m not naive to think that that’s the only issue. There’s that early on in the first few weeks when we came out of the election that Dave and Ed picked up more MPs’ support than me, and we have actually gained, we are now close to 40 from 33, so we have been going up and others have been going down.

And also some of the trade unions. I think we have been showing in the past few weeks what a campaigning link between the trade unions and party is, in the post office campaign with the CWU. But in the end some of the unions said, ‘Our over-riding priority is to stop David Miliband, which candidate is the stop David Miliband candidate?’ I think there are still people who say, ‘I think Ed Balls is the one who causes the coalition the most difficulty and is the most credible, but is he too close to Gordon Brown?’

Q. And are you too close to Gordon Brown?

I don’t think it matters a jot to be honest. As I have said, Ed Miliband was working for Gordon when I arrived in 1993, and he wrote the [2010] manifesto. I was probably the person who is more known for it, because on certain points like on the euro, or in January I went out and spoke out, but that’s because I’m a bit more front foot. But I don’t think I was sort more or less associated than David was with Tony or Ed Miliband was with Gordon, but of course there’s a bit of a perception of that.

And there’s also another dimension to this as well, which I was up in Durham a week or so ago, and a Labour Party member says, ‘I think you are the most credible and the best campaigner but can we afford another candidate who is not popular with the right-wing tabloids, the Daily Mail gives you a hard time? Are we not safe going with a candidate who has an easier ride with the Daily Mail?’ To which the answer is, well not if you want to win the election. Blunting your message and looking like David Cameron is not going to win us the next election. Being clear about what we’re about and we have an alternative point of view, even if that ruffles some feathers, I think is vital. That’s what I have done, and I’m not going to stop doing that.

The Labour Party has got to decide, has it got the confidence to go with that, or would it rather that more passive, defensive, ‘ooh you’ve got to be careful’ view? I don’t think we can win through caution.

I was the first in 1997 to argue for Bank of England independence, and for cuts in capital gains tax, so I understand the importance of reaching out across low and middle income Britain. But you have got to do it with a bit of distinctiveness.

The Labour Party has got to decide whether it’s fundamentally … is it choosing the leader for the future or is it looking backwards? Governments who lose elections often lose on the basis of a backward look. I just don’t want people to regret the choice.

Q:  Gordon is a friend, how does it feel that being close to him is seen as a negative?

Gordon is grown up about this and so am I. He lost the election, didn’t connect on the doorstep, people didn’t say, ‘I want Gordon Brown to carry on’. He made some bad calls. That’s a fact. History will judge him as being the person who has shown more courage and conviction and has probably saved more people’s loves and jobs around the world that probably any politician of that era. I think history will judge him well.

But he didn’t win. There were lots of people at the beginning of the campaign who didn’t know me, and would say, ‘Is he another Gordon Brown?’ But actually everybody who sees me on the TV and on the campaign, the policy I have set out, the way I talk about politics, they know I am a very, very different kind of politician. Increasingly people are saying that. Lots of people say, ‘I have such a different view of you than four months ago.’ Whether that’s enough I don’t know.

Q: Have you spoken to Gordon during the campaign.

Yeah, a few times.

Q: Any hints and tips?

I haven’t really asked to be honest and I don’t think Gordon really wants to get drawn into it. We keep reading Tony Blair is supporting David Miliband and Gordon Brown is supporting Ed Miliband, but I think that’s probably the old Miliband narrative taking over again.

Q: Is that support helpful anyway?

I don’t think it matters. In a sense the endorsements I’ve had have been Ken Livingstone fighting the London mayoral election, from Yvette Cooper our employment minister, John Healey our housing minister, people are going to be part of the Labour Party in one, two, three, four years time. People who have worked with me on my time who are ambitious for the future. I have chosen to push that more than people who are standing down.

Q: You talk about being the most complete candidate, what are the bits that are missing, what are your flaws?

First of all, a positive thing, is pretty much everybody who has worked with me in government is on the campaign, so in the early period, Anne Snelgrove, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, Jim [Knight] has done a brilliant job co-ordinating the whole thing as he has been elevated to the Lords and done about another 10 different activities, and Diana Johnson, Iain Wright, Vernon Coaker, Kevin Brennan, all people who have worked with me say you’re the person we want to support as well …
None of us is complete though. I think if you’re a politician and you’re not learning all the time, you’re not doing well. I think I’m much more hardened campaign politician than any other candidates now, because I know what it’s like in the election not knowing whether you’re going to give your winning or your losing speech, and none of the leadership candidates know what that’s like.

That teaches you some campaigning skills, teaches you a lot of resilience as well. I think, I’ve shown over the years more resilience, I’ve had to than the others.

Q: You have been targeted for being close to Brown.

David Cameron has mentioned me most weeks at Prime Minister’s Questions. I don’t think he has mentioned any of the other candidates ever. The Daily Mail has called me an extreme left wing socialist zealot more times than I can imagine. People try to write me off and take me out of this leadership election in the middle of it and I’ve stormed back and shown that anybody who writes me off makes a big mistake and we have seen that reflected in momentum and votes as well.

On a personal level I became a Cabinet minister three years ago, I’ve always had a stammer — all through my life when I was a child. Nobody knew about it then, I never talked about it, in the early period it was hard because actually the degree of exposure, in dealing with Parliament, dealing with the TV, but I’ve come through that. I talk about it openly now.

People I think can’t believe it can be true. If you want to know about resilience, that’s hard. That’s the most difficult thing I have ever done. The people who know I came through that and came out the other side know that nothing that David Cameron can ever say to me which would knock me down, there is nothing the Daily Mail could do to me which could ever knock me down.

Yvette says to me in my election leaflet which is very nice of her, that I’ve achieved more than all the other candidates of our generation put together. One of the interviewers this week said, ‘Why don’t you talk about that more?’ And actually I could spend the whole time talking about Bank independence, the windfall tax, the tax credits, National Insurance and the health service, the decision on the euro, as well as the stuff I did later on children, but actually I think in a way I haven’t done that so much because it feeds that rather backward looking feel of this choice.

I would much rather be talking about the jobs plan, the housing plan, reform of the party, the big economic argument, going forward. If Labour chooses its leader on the grounds that on the one hand we mustn’t make the mistake of 1992 and not win middle England or that we are too in hock to a comfort zone based on a past view, I think an internal discussion is very dangerous.

When I look back on our politics, from 1979 to 1983, the Labour Party had an internal discussion about what we were about and what we were for, ignored the electorate I’m afraid, came along in ‘83 and said vote for us and the public said we don’t know who you are, we haven’t heard a word you’ve said, we don’t know what these words mean, and when we look at your policies we think you’re a bit off the wall. We can’t make that mistake, and I’m not going to.

I’ve not been talking a party narrative, I’ve tried to show what talking to the country is all about.
Nobody has once said to me, during the general election campaign or after, you must carry on on a relentless path of public service reform and if you don’t I’ll feel that the New Labour project is being derailed.

Nobody has said to me either in my constituency or anywhere in the country, I’m not voting for you because you’ve allowed your alliances to drive your values and not your values to drive your alliances.

Nobody is said that either. What they have said is why has my daughter been waiting for two years for a house, and I’m worried that tuition fees are making it harder for my kids to go to university, and I’m really worried about what public service cuts will mean for my elderly relative and what that will mean for our family, and why can’t Labour set out an alternative view, or isn’t there one? It’s answering those questions which I have tried to be about all the way through, whether that’s on housing, on migration, on Europe.

The lesson I draw from the general campaign is none of the three leaders, Gordon, David or Nick Clegg, actually sounded to people in constituencies around the country like they were in touch with their lives, actually. They either sounded like they weren’t in touch or they sounded like they were reading out somebody else’s script. And actually, that’s why nobody won.

I think its slightly alienating to be honest. Where as in the election campaign at one point we had the independent travelling hustings, me a Tory, the BNP, the Liberal, the crowd of 500 with a big chunk of BNP, plus three TV cameras. And the question was could you connect with that audience and make them see you on your side. That’s real politics, that’s what you have got to be able to do. That’s what we should be doing with these hustings, rather than having an internal discussion.

My Conservative opponent saying you have allowed a deluge of immigration to swamp our area, now, I have to stand up and say that while I disagree with the racism of the BNP and I thought the Tory was wrong to play that kind of nasty politics, but to make the case for migration must mean making case for fair migration, because I understand peoples concerns and here’s how we can sort it out. That’s what you have got to be able to do, and that’s what I think I offer which none of the other leadership candidates do. None of them have actually do it that way, or have had to it that way.

Q: Does it come down to just talking like a normal person and knowing what normal people are talking about?

None of us are complete, we are all learning. But the issue is I can walk into a meeting of finance ministers, I chaired the world finance ministers deputies for two years, I know what it is like to sort of try to make sure that the Russian finance minister and the Ukrainian finance minister are getting on round the table, chairing a meeting.

But I can also go into a Sure Start children’s centre with a group of mums and dads and talk to them about their kids and their community in a way which doesn’t make them feel somebody has just arrived from Mars but sounds like them and is like them? Actually to be comfortable in any environment, talking about the things that matter in a way which makes sense, I need to be able to go into any discussion and say, what is the issue for jobs here, but I have also got to persuade the eminent columnists of the Financial Times [that] I’ve talked sense. If you can’t do both —

Q: Are you the only one who can do both?

I think the reason people say I’ve run the best campaign, is they say I am the best person for doing that. I’ve got something to say. I don’t think anybody doubts that we have had more substance on policy. Compared to the other candidates we have had far more policy substance. But it’s actually a combination of the policy substance and the credibility of how it adds up, plus the ability to communicate what you are trying to get to. That’s what I mean about some of the other candidates, people say they have got part of that but you have got to get as close as you can to all of it.

The one thing you have to say about David Cameron is in certain media environments he can sound suave, although when he then goes along and says in 1940 Britain was the junior partner to America, I think suddenly all across the country people are saying hang on a sec he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
But if you come the kind of places we do our public meetings if you ever said that you’d get lynched.

Q: What do you think of Nick Clegg?

I think he had the chance to be deputy prime minister and he has taken it. And in so doing had hijacked his party, it has left the Liberal Democrats in an existentialist crisis of great proportions, who are we, what are we for, where do we stand, how did this happen? I would think that Camus-like there are many Liberal democrats walking the streets wondering how it happened and that’s a real challenge for Nick Clegg in terms of leadership. Because he’s got to make sense of what he has done and I don’t think he has passed that test yet. Most Lib Dems think if he has genuinely hijacked his party and taken it to the right, well where does that leave them?

But when he comes along and says we are the progressive face of the coalition and it turns out the budget hit the poorest hardest, his words blow up in his face. I think Nick Clegg has got a huge leadership challenge to make sense of what he has done as anything other than complete opportunism. We’ll see.

I’ve said this to my colleagues and particularly to Ed, if we simply wait for the Liberal Democrats to have a crisis in the hope that we’ll get Liberal Democrat voters and even MPs coming back to us and in the meantime let the Conservatives off the hook – it’s very dangerous. Because David Cameron could easily be turning round in a few months time and saying, well we always knew the Liberal Democrats weren’t reliable, vote for the real thing. And that’s why I think on the economy and public service winning the argument with David Cameron and George Osborne is more important than discomforting the Liberal Democrats.

Q: So what do you do about the Lib Dems, do you hug them close or kick them to death?

What people want to know is, what is a Conservative-led coalition doing and what is Labour’s alternative? Within that, there is clearly a huge dilemma for many Liberal Democrat voters who thought they were voting for the opposite of what the Conservative-led coalition is doing. This is a Conservative-liberal coalition with a small ‘l’ because it is more the liberal wing than the Liberal Democrat wing of the Liberal Party which is comfortable with this.

I would rather keep focused on the speeches of David Cameron, George Osborne and Michael Gove and their philosophy, and as it happens I think Nick Clegg is quite comfortable with that.

Q: If you become leader, could you tempt Lib Dem councillors and MPs to defect?

I’m neither looking to target Lib Dems for criticism or to prioritise winning their support over winning the support of for example Labour supporters who went to vote Conservative or other smaller parties. We need to be across the piece. I understand the huge discomfort that many Liberal Democrats feel but that is not my first priority.

Q: Did you support keeping shadow cabinet elections?

Yes, I think so.

Q: It’s a very tight turnaround from getting a new leader, a new shadow cabinet and then the Comprehensive Spending Review. How big a challenge is that?

I’ve not waited until the outcome of the leadership election to set out an economic alternative view. Obviously, how the shadow cabinet portfolios then get allocated will make a difference to how we response to different policy areas, but I think we took four months debating a big alternative message and that’s something which is going to have be resolved by the Labour Party in the next few weeks.

Q: It was no great secret that you wanted to be chancellor in government, presumably that’s still something you’d be comfortable doing?

The great irony of this is I always knew that me being Gordon’s chancellor would be complicated and difficult for me. It was a never a job I lobbied or pressed for and I spent most of the week in 2009 telling journalists I absolutely wasn’t pressing for this, but I think that the problem was that Gordon and Peter Mandelson thought for quite a long period of time that it would have been better if I had; then it couldn’t be done. It wasn’t something that I particularly lobbied for.
Similarly in terms of where we are now, I am campaigning for the leader’s job. I think the economy is so important that you need a leader who can really put David Cameron into difficult places. He is the Prime Minister now not leader of the opposition, he has got to answer difficult questions not ask them.

Q: Are you the only one with economic credibility?

It is fairly obvious I have got more of a professional track record. But there are also a couple of other people who have done some economic stuff in the past, I am not campaigning for a particular job if I lose. But I have said I think we should make sure we get the best people in the right jobs. I am campaigning to win.

Q: What about if you did win, would Yvette be a good shadow chancellor?

I think Yvette is very talented, and it is unsurprising to know I have not started doing fantasy shadow cabinet, we have got to wait and see what the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] chooses first [in the shadow cabinet elections in October].

Q: Have you started writing your leader’s speech for conference?

No. But for me the leadership campaign has been completely liberating, in terms of having the time and the opportunity to set out the views about the first and now on to the future. I think that’s pretty good preparation for your first leader’s speech.

Q: What does the party need to do at conference?

The conference is going to be defined by the new leader and by our response to the economic crisis.

Q: Should Gordon appear at the conference?

Umm, … yeah. I don’t know in what way, but I think it’s important that we are moving from the past to the future and we should do that in a dignified and united way.

Q: What has annoyed you on the campaign trail?

I’m rather a optimistic, bouncy sort of person, I don’t particularly get down. I get tired but not down. I don’t get annoyed. Given that Costa Coffee now has a fairly substantial ownership of coffee shops in motorway service stations, I wish they would expand their range of toasted sandwiches, because once you’ve had the cheese steak, the cheese and ham – I’ve had that a few times – and I don’t really like the chicken one, so it gets a bit narrow. That would be a really positive improvement for my life.

We don’t get annoyed. We have some times where its two or three days of not seeing the children, and that’s difficult. Our daughter has just started secondary school so it’s a difficult time. But we are going back tonight and up to Yorkshire tomorrow. I tend to go back whenever I possibly can.

Q: David Cameron has been credited for working more family friendly hours. Can you be a decent family man while also trying to get to the top of politics, or is there a constant balancing act?

I think the step to Prime Minister or leader of the opposition is a step up from any job, I think that being a Cabinet minister is pretty stressful as well, but to be honest that’s something I did manage to carry off. I have always been a quite good multi-tasker. But the last couple of months have been very hard because we have just been doing thousands of miles, so we have been leaving at 8 in the morning getting back at 1 in the morning most days, but that will change.

In the end, there are certain things you learn in life. One of which is never ever to spend your whole time thinking about a job you haven’t got, that’s an important lesson I have learned.

Q: Is that from your experience or the experience of others?

Let’s just say it’s an experience I’ve got. I want to enjoy every day, and I love doing the job I do, I want to be leader of the Labour Party but if not I’ll enjoy and be honoured to do whatever I do in the next few years. You don’t want to look back and wish you’d got a better balance.

It’s quite intense in this kind of politics, but at the same time you have also got to remember our kids’ time is important too. You have got to be quite tough about that. The only time I cry with pain in the office is when I look at the diary and say, ‘You haven’t factored in that day [it] is really important so I am not going to compromise that.’

On the day more daughter starts at secondary school, nothing is more important, so you miss the GMTV couch – so what?

Q: When you have been touring the country in your Ford Galaxy, have you been reading anybody’s memoirs?

No, actually.

Q: Do you plan to?

As I have said, August reading. So I have got 11 months to gather dust. This August I read Twilight, I thought to myself if my daughter is going to read all four books, I ought to read them, so I read the first one of the werewolf books. I have been trying to read the new Martin Amis book, Solar, I didn’t really quite get in to that. I read the Chris Cleave novel. To be honest I’d rather read those kind of books than memoirs. I like political history, but I prefer to read them when it’s all history.

Q: Will you read Gordon’s book?

I will, it will only gather dust for eight months.

Photograph: Justin Sutcliffe

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  • aardvark10

    Can’t be bothered to read it all – I didn’t think this is what blogs were for. Only makes sense if you do the same for all the candidates – - even more boring than quoting the Daily Mail every other day.
    But Ed Balls has a strange memory. Did he not play a huge part in the destruction of probably the finest pension industry in the Western World, and is he not at least partly responsible for the waste and huge debts which are the legacy of Labour’s years in office. And he was Minister fior Children in the last government. If he turned up at your house and offered advice on bringing up your children, would you ask him in. I knopw what I’d request him to do!

  • bigbread

    Dear me, what a pile of old tosh.
    I really hope Labour elect Balls:with him as leader they will be out of power for a generation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1098284164 Steven Edmondson

    Solar isn’t an Amis. It’s McEwan.

  • timpap

    Is it just me but Ed Balls irritates the hell out of me, and when I see his wife Yvette Cooper on the TV screen, sounding like a robot, I end up shouting at the TV (as my wife will testify). And you think it is such a great idea to print this long rambling interview of self promotion? I just can’t be bothered to read this stuff (I really tried). He is one of these irritating people who has an answer for everything. The other Labour candidates I can just about listen to but not this obnoxious clown. I think he should try a completely different career, out of politics (he has never known anything else), and finally get a life.

  • crashtestmonkey

    “This August I read Twilight,”

    That explains a lot. Teenage girl in love traingle between a blood sucking parasite and a man that transforms into a raging beast. Which one do you think is Blair?


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