The bombshell that’s going off with a … ffzzt

I’m a little puzzled by Ed Balls’ choice of campaign issue. I know most of the leadership candidates have started a campaign on something. David Miliband has gone with removing the charitable status from private schools. Andy Burnham is going with saving the future jobs fund. Ed Miliband launched with the living wage. I’d like to say what Diane Abbott is campaigning for, but her website is disappointingly devoid of almost any information.

One part of the point of these issue campaigns is to show what they stand for and another part is to collect names and email addresses of supporters. That’s why campaigns tend to attach a petition. That’s all fine. Par for the course and all that. What’s puzzling me is why Ed Balls has chosen the tory VAT increase as his campaign issue.

I’m not saying I agree with the VAT increase. Quite the opposite. It’s a stupid mistake which punishes the poorest in our society. But surely, if you’re fighting a leadership campaign across the summer,  you want to have an issue that you can fight for at least that long. It seems to me that Ed Balls is fighting against a VAT rise that will be law by next week. I asked Ed about this and he said

There’ll be a vote on VAT in the finance bill – Will Liberal Democrats vote for the VAT bombshell they warned about?

Well, yes Ed. They probably will. I know that some Liberal Democrats will be uncomfortable with the financial measures announced in the Budget, but the likelihood is that those measures will still pass through Parliament. The Liberal Democrats are happily and hypocritically repeating the argument that the VAT rise was wholly necessary due to Labour mismanagement.

It’s a lie, everyone knows it’s a lie, the Lib Dems know everyone knows it’s a lie. But they’re merrily repeating the lie regardless. So I can’t see enough of them voting against the VAT rise for it to fail.

That leaves Ed Balls as the only candidate whose issue-campaign has failed. And that would be with almost three months until the leadership election takes place. It just seems like a bad choice of issue and an unforced error from the Ed Balls campaign team. Of course I could be wrong. The Liberal Democrats might rebel. I just can’t see it happening at the moment. 

Disclaimery type thing – Out of a sense of fairness I want to remind you, Dear Reader, that I have publically declared my support for Ed Miliband. He’s getting my first preference at the moment, but obviously that could all change between now and September. That being said, I’d write this post whomever I was supporting.

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