Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Ed Balls should be next Labour leader

In an age when politicians say what they think the public wants to hear, Ed Balls means what he says and says what he means. He is strong, tough and uncompromising – good qualities for any leader of the Labour party.

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Sometimes his approach can ruffle feathers but I would rather have a leader who has the courage to stand by their convictions and make difficult decisions under pressure, than one who bends to the latest media storm.

In the last government, he impressed as children’s secretary and wasn’t afraid to take difficult decisions. He rightly ordered the removal of Sharon Shoesmith from Haringey council and he implemented the living wage within his own department for all staff and contracted staff – the only cabinet minister to do so.

And he impressed during the election campaign. He withstood a Tory onslaught in his own constituency and still managed to find time to campaign on behalf of other Labour candidates elsewhere. He put the party’s interests before his own.

During the last four months, on issues such as free school meals or domestic violence he has shown that he is not afraid to lead from the front and fight the coalition. His criticism of the government’s VAT rise was convincing and his attacks on Michael Gove earlier in the summer exposed just how badly Gove was managing his own department. He is the candidate who will cause the coalition most difficulty.

But on the most serious issue of the day – the economy – Ed is the only candidate to have offered a credible, alternative to the coalition’s programme of cuts. His recent speech on the economy at Bloomberg was compelling and persuasive. It demonstrated that his understanding of economics is unrivalled by his fellow contenders. And it showed he is the candidate who has most effectively moved on from the Blair/Brown era.

As leader, Ed would be more likely than any of the other candidates to connect with the voters who deserted us at the last election. Since 2005, support for Labour amongst the lower middle classes and the working classes has fallen dramatically.

And Ed gets this.

He was the first to speak with authenticity about Labour voters’ concerns on immigration. And he understands that on issues like the 10p tax rate or university tuition fees many voters felt the government had stopped listening to them.

On housing, he has fully costed plans to build 100,000 extra affordable homes over the next two years which it’s estimated will create up to 750,000 jobs. It’s policies like this which will help Labour reconnect with voters and allow us to go on and win the next election.

Above all else, Ed talks like a normal person and gets what normal people are talking about.

That’s why he is the best person to lead the Labour party.

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Alex Finnegan

is a member of Holborn and St Pancras CLP and worked for the party in the north-west during the election campaign

2 comments

  • EB is also the only one to have any charisma IMHO which is crucially important in connecting with the voter. In a parliament of mainly bland men, it would make life very much more interesting. I have already voted for him…

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