Blogs

Ed Balls on Andrew Marr Show

John Rentoul

balls 1662134c 300x187 Ed Balls on Andrew Marr ShowNot up on the Marr programme website yet, so as a public service and in my role as the Shadow Chancellor’s assistant press officer, the transcript:

THE ANDREW MARR SHOW INTERVIEW:
ED BALLS, MP
SHADOW CHANCELLOR
DECEMBER 2nd 2012

ANDREW MARR:
And so to the economy. Ever since the election, Ed Balls as Shadow
Chancellor has been criticising the coalition government for going too
far too fast in its austerity programme, and his case is that
Britain’s poor economic performance has actually been worsened by the
scale of the cuts. The government, however, says that he has never
taken enough responsibility for our huge national indebtedness and
that Labour would just return to the old days of splurge. Ed Balls
joins me now. Are you still a splurger?

ED BALLS:
No, of course not. I think everybody knows we’ve got to get the
deficit down. But George Osborne said two years ago, he said, “Judge
me on this one thing: will I get the deficit down?” and he’s failing
because this year the borrowing is going up, not down. And he’ll come
on in a moment and say to you it’s down by 25 per cent, but it’s
rising again, Andrew, because we’ve been in recession, because the
economic plan has failed. And I’m afraid if you’re in a hole …

ANDREW MARR:
Okay.

ED BALLS:
… you should stop digging. He’s still digging, making it much worse
for families.

ANDREW MARR:
Right, okay. So far, so familiar, if I may say so. Nonetheless …

ED BALLS:
(over) Yeah, but I mean, Andrew, familiar …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) No, let me … let me ask my …

ED BALLS:
(over) … familiar and correct.

ANDREW MARR:
(over) … let me ask my question.

ED BALLS:
(over) And if the government had listened two years ago …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) Let me ask my question if you don’t mind.

ED BALLS:
Sure.

ANDREW MARR:
Which is that Labour has still not convinced the public, if you look
at the opinion polls, that you have a proper alternative plan to get
the deficit down without the scale of the cuts that this government is
making. In other words, you haven’t really made the hard choices and
you haven’t confronted the hard choices that any government is going
to have to make in 2015. That is a fair point. It’s pretty much a
blank sheet on your side about where those cuts are going to happen.

ED BALLS:
Andrew, it was always going to be hard for us after 2010 to turn round
public opinion and we’re moving step by step. But in the end it’s
about judgement. And, as you said, two years ago I said to George
Osborne his plan would not work and his judgement has been proved to
be woefully lacking. The question …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) But that only really works for you if you have an alternative
plan, doesn’t it?

ED BALLS:
Okay. I would love to be debating how now in the next three years and
beyond we can turn this economy round. And here’s three things we
should do. First of all kickstart the recovery, get jobs and growth
moving, use the 4G mobile phone spectrum money to build a hundred
thousand homes and create tens of thousands of jobs. Secondly, go
ahead with a business investment bank and radical bank reform, which
Osborne’s watering down and not doing on the business investment bank.
And, thirdly, let’s do it in a fair way. The idea the Chancellor’s
priority is to raise taxes for pensioners and to cut tax credits for
working families but to cut the tax rate for millionaires, that is
deeply unfair.

ANDREW MARR:
Well, well okay …

ED BALLS:
Three very different ways.

ANDREW MARR:
… let’s pick up on those.

ED BALLS:
I want to debate the future, a different Labour future.

ANDREW MARR:
Let me pick up on those. Lord Heseltine, Michael Heseltine was
employed by this government …

ED BALLS:
Of course.

ANDREW MARR:
… to produce a plan for growth, and quite a lot of that seems to me
quite close to some of the things that you’ve been talking about in
terms of more money for the regions, more money pushed down, more
house building and so on. We may well see in the coming Autumn
Statement a bit of a sting on higher earners over their pensions, for
instance. So there seems to a lot of people there are areas where
actually you could get alongside and say yes, actually we agree with
the government; we should have a national plan for growth, and it’s
not all tit-for-tat or bish-bosh.

ED BALLS:
Well, Andrew, let’s discuss those two separate issues.

ANDREW MARR:
Yeah.

ED BALLS:
First of all, Lord Heseltine I think thinks the abolition of the
Regional Development Agencies and the dismantling of all of that
infrastructure was ridiculous. But the question that business is
asking is where is the decisions on aviation, where’s High Speed 2,
why aren’t we building any more roads, where is the energy policy? The
growth plan is a shambles. There’s nothing there. Even the business
investment bank is not happening.

ANDREW MARR:
It is very hard to fund that, isn’t it? I mean that is a really
serious problem – how you raise the huge funds needed for big
infrastructure spending to get the economy  moving.

ED BALLS:
But if we are in a hole with no growth and borrowing rising, it’s
harder to fund. That’s why you’ve got to have a jobs and growth plan.
It’s why you’ve got to change course from the failing Osborne plan.
The second issue which you raised is pensions. Let’s be clear about
this. George Osborne came in and he reversed with £1.6 billion the
pension tax changes before the last election to give it back to the
richest people. Anything he does there is a reversal of his mistake.
But Andrew …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) Well but there is pain coming for better off pensioners …

ED BALLS:
(over) No.

ANDREW MARR:
And that’s something presumably you welcome?

ED BALLS:
Andrew, there isn’t pain coming compared to the giveaway they’ve
already had. But there is a millionaire’s tax cut, three billion
pounds, over a hundred thousand pounds to eight thousand millionaires.
If George Osborne’s serious …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) Okay let’s talk about the other end of the scale.

ED BALLS:
(over) I know you don’t want to talk about the millionaire’s tax …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) Let’s, let’s talk.

ED BALLS:
… but it is really important. Why should pensioners pay more? Why
should fuel be going up? Why should tax credits be cut? Why should
people on housing benefit be thrown out of their homes? Why will
millionaires get a tax cut on that scale?

ANDREW MARR:
Okay, so let’s talk about some of the pain because, apart from any
changes in the tax system, widespread briefing that we’re going to get
a freeze or a near freeze to in work benefits. Do you think that the
welfare system can take, should take more of a squeeze at this point?

ED BALLS:
But, Andrew, how much has welfare spending gone up in this parliament?

ANDREW MARR:
No, that’s not the question.

ED BALLS:
Well it’s a very important question.

ANDREW MARR:
(over) Is that the answer?

ED BALLS:
I’ll tell you the answer.

ANDREW MARR:
(over) It’s not the question I’m asking you.

ED BALLS:
Well if you don’t know the answer, it’s twenty billion pounds more …

ANDREW MARR:
Let’s, let’s just …

ED BALLS:
It’s costing us more. The Work Programme has failed.

ANDREW MARR:
Yeah, let’s just …

ED BALLS:
Long-term unemployment is going up.

ANDREW MARR:
Okay.

ED BALLS:
Unless you’ve got a jobs and growth plan, you don’t get the welfare bill down.

ANDREW MARR:
Let’s go back to my question.

ED BALLS:
Okay.

ANDREW MARR:
Are you in favour of a squeeze on welfare?

ED BALLS:
Of course.

ANDREW MARR:
You are?

ED BALLS:
Which is why I’m so frustrated …

ANDREW MARR:
(over) So what scale of …

ED BALLS:
… it’s up by twenty billion pounds.

ANDREW MARR:
So what sort of scale of freeze do you think is acceptable in the
welfare system as it is at the moment?

ED BALLS:
Look I think the idea that you would be freezing unemployment benefits
and cutting tax credits and child benefit for people in the middle
while giving a tax cut for millionaires of three billion pounds is a
question of choices and priorities.

ANDREW MARR:
But you’ve just said that you are in favour …

ED BALLS:
(over) I am.

ANDREW MARR:
… of squeezing the welfare benefit, so my question is where and how?

ED BALLS:
Get people back to work.

ANDREW MARR:
Yeah, but that’s not squeezing the welfare bill.

ED BALLS:
Of course it is.

ANDREW MARR:
That’s …

ED BALLS:
Of course it is, Andrew. Of course it is.

ANDREW MARR:
(over) You know that is an important effect on the welfare bill, but
I’m asking you about the welfare bill itself and acting directly on
it.

ED BALLS:
The welfare bill is up because inflation was up and long-term
unemployment is up. And unless you get people back to work … The Work
Programme’s failing and he’s cutting taxes at the top. And then he
says, George Osborne, I’m going to hit people at the bottom. And
you’re saying to me he’s in a deep hole, here’s a shovel, why don’t
you dig too? I’m not going to dig our way to unfairness and economic
failure. That is perverse.

ANDREW MARR:
But people don’t understand where you’re going to dig your way to or
how you’re going to dig anywhere because you won’t give people the
detail for the cuts that …

ED BALLS:
(over) Andrew, use the 4G mobile phone money to build a hundred
thousand homes, repeat the bank bonus tax, get every young person back
to work and say there’s no choice, you’ve got to go to work and here
are the jobs. The Work Programme should be a work guarantee to get
people into work.

ANDREW MARR:
(over) But you, you know the …

ED BALLS:
(over) It’s costing billions and billions more because Osborne’s plan
is failing.

ANDREW MARR:
You know the trouble …

ED BALLS:
(over) You should ask him the difficult questions about this.

ANDREW MARR:
You know the trouble a lot of the banks are in and you know that just
simply squeezing them more and more isn’t a long-term option.

ED BALLS:
Look, I know that the banks could afford a bank bonus tax. The country
needs a youth jobs programme. Repeating the high youth unemployment of
the 1980s is perverse. Look, I’m afraid there’s no growth, borrowing’s
up. Ask George Osborne the difficult questions, Andrew. Ask him the
difficult questions.

ANDREW MARR:
Well maybe he’ll be better at giving me some of the answers than you
have given. But thank …

ED BALLS:
(over) I’ve given you many, many answers, just not the answers you always want.

ANDREW MARR:
Thank you very much.

INTERVIEW ENDS

Tagged in: ,
  • creggancowboy

    “So, Ed, how can you con the people again? You supported the greatest erosion of human rights in UK history 1997-2010″ (Balls) “Oh the punters are right thick, they fall for the same old crap each time”.


Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter