Labour’s new feud: Ed versus Ed

Ed Balls is getting under the skin of Ed Miliband and his inner circle.

The misdirected email from Torsten Henricson-Bell, Ed Miliband's chief economic adviser, describing Ed Balls' comments on the economy as a "nightmare", plays into the script of the two Eds being as "bitterly divided" as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown once were, says Rachel Sylvester in The Times. However, this is "oversimplistic".

True, there are tensions between the Opposition Leader and the Shadow Chancellor, both personal and ideological. Balls has been described as "John Prescott with a Harvard degree", while Miliband is shyer and less laddish. On policy, "substantive" differences exist. Miliband wants to create a new, more responsible capitalism; Balls has a more traditional New Labour attitude and "worries about alienating business and distorting the market". But theirs is "not the only dynamic that matters". More than 30% of the Shadow Cabinet the clean skins' were not in Parliament at the last election. The party has entered a multipolar' world with various centres of influence, meaning there is "much less chance of mutually assured destruction".

Meanwhile, the revelation that there are tensions between the two Eds over Labour economic policy is not exactly news, and the main response from Labour has been one of relief, says Dan Hodges in The Daily Telegraph specifically, relief that the email emerged by accident and does not seem to "presage the start of an all-out briefing war". A spokesman for Miliband took the opportunity to reiterate Balls' cost of living argument, saying "Ed Balls is entirely right". Nonetheless, the emails show that Balls has a real ability to "get under the skin" of Miliband and his inner circle. They also reveal that Labour's senior team is highly aware of "the danger the issue of the economy poses to their election chances".

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What danger? asks Benedict Brogan in The Daily Telegraph. On the basis of Labour's record inpower and its mistakes in Opposition, the "economic case" against Balls and Miliband "appears unanswerable", yet voters appear indifferent to the "detail of the economic policy argument". Miliband's "well-played tunes over an energy-price freeze, nasty plutocrats and more free money for poor people are having an effect". The polls give Labour an eight-point lead over the Tories. Not even the scandal over the former Co-op Bank chairman and minor Labour party figure Paul Flowers a "crack-smoking churchman" who boasted of throwing "drug-fuelled gay orgies" (see page 46) has been able to scratch Labour's Teflon. This is baffling. Maybe the "solution to the Opposition's current success lies with the Tories". The "real question underlying politics" is not why Labour is doing so well, but why the Tories are doing so badly.

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 


On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.