31 May 2009

Balls to the rescue. Maybe not.


If you are looking for clues to what tactical Brown is thinking, the Sunday papers are a big disappointment.  Only one story stands out.  The Sunday Times has the no-surprise news that Brown wants Balls to be chancellor.  Who knows whether Downing Street is testing the water, Mandy is attempting to get the wonderful idea called off or Balls himself if doing some self-promotion:

According to the well-placed insider, Brown has been working on the scheme to make Balls chancellor since the expenses debacle engulfed Westminster, taking a handful of his closest aides into his confidence.

Brown knows the appointment would be highly controversial and is ruminating over the possible consequences. However, Balls’s elevation would fit into a wider strategy to position Labour for the next general election, which rests on hopes of an upturn in Britain’s economic fortunes just before polling day.


The Sunday Times understands that Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, has warned Brown of the potential dangers, but is ready to support the move as part of a final attempt to revive the government’s fortunes.

Then we discover:

However, the scheme is still open to challenge from some No 10 advisers as well as Balls’s powerful Blairite enemies who will attempt to block it.

Brown’s authority has become so weakened that some ministers are openly defying Downing Street. Insiders claim the most audacious are dodging his calls – deliberately “going to ground” when he tries to phone them.

Brown is many things but he is not totally mad.  Making Balls chancellor would cause deep division within the PLP.  Brown needs effective media performers and Balls is certainly not one who falls into this category.

In truth, nobody knows what is going on.

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