It’s now two and a half years since Ed Balls became shadow chancellor and, as the chart above shows, there’s been very little change in public perceptions over who is to blame for the cuts. The charge that it’s “Labour’s fault” continues to resonate.
We see it time and time again whenever coalition ministers respond to criticism of their policies for the deficit. Everything is justified because of what they inherited from the last LAB government – an assertion that seems to have lost little of its potency.
Labour’s challenge in trying to return to power is that Ed Balls is seen to have played such a key role during the Labour years. Him being shadow chancellor makes it a lot easier for the coalition to attach the blame to the party.
It’s been reported that EdM is planning a reshuffle in the next few weeks. Moving Balls from the Treasury team is, I’d suggest, essential if the party is to have a chance returning to power.
Such a decision would also do a lot to deal with the “weak, weak” rhetoric that Cameron has been deploying with such effect against Miliband.
Who should get the role? The obvious replacement is Alistair Darling but he’s tied up until September 2014 with the Scottish referendum. I’d go for one of the women – Cooper or Reeves perhaps – simply because both Osborne and Cameron are less sure-footed when dealing with female opponents.
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