|The Right Honourable
|Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer|
20 January 2011
|Preceded by||Alan Johnson|
|Shadow Home Secretary|
8 October 2010 – 20 January 2011
|Preceded by||Alan Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Yvette Cooper|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Education|
11 May 2010 – 8 October 2010
|Preceded by||Michael Gove (CSF)|
|Succeeded by||Andy Burnham|
|Secretary of State for Children,
Schools and Families
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Alan Johnson (EaS)|
|Succeeded by||Michael Gove (E)|
|Economic Secretary to the Treasury|
6 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||Ivan Lewis|
|Succeeded by||Kitty Ussher|
|Member of Parliament
for Morley and Outwood
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|Member of Parliament
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Bill O'Brien|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Born||Edward Michael Balls
25 February 1967
Norwich, Norfolk, England
|Political party||Labour Co-operative|
|Alma mater||Keble College, Oxford
|Religion||Church of England|
Edward Michael Balls (born 25 February 1967) is a British Labour Party and Co-operative Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Morley and Outwood since 2010, and is the current Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
From 2005 to 2010, he was the MP for Normanton and he served as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families under Gordon Brown from 2007-10.
Balls is married to current Shadow Home Secretary and fellow Labour MP Yvette Cooper. In June 2007 they became the first married couple to serve together in a British Cabinet when Cooper became Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Political career
- 3 Political activities
- 4 Personal life
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
Balls' father is the zoologist Michael Balls; his mother is Carolyn Janet Balls (born Riseborough). His younger brother is Andrew Balls the head of European Operations at the bond and investment firm PIMCO. Balls was born in Norwich and educated at Bawburgh Primary School in Norwich, Crossdale Drive Primary School in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, and then the private all-boys Nottingham High School, where he played the violin. He went on to attend Keble College, Oxford, where he gained a First in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating—according to John Rentoul in the Independent—ahead of David Cameron. Later he attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, where he was a Kennedy Scholar specialising in Economics.
Balls joined the Labour Party in 1983 while still at school. While at Oxford he was a partially active member of the Labour Club, but also signed up to the Liberal Club as well as the Conservative Association, "because they used to book top-flight political speakers, and only members were allowed to attend their lectures" according to friends. He was a founding member of the all-male drinking club, The Steamers and suffered embarrassment when a contemporary photo of him wearing Nazi uniform appeared in the papers.
He joined the Financial Times in 1990 as a lead economic writer until his appointment as an economic adviser to Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown in 1994. When Labour won the 1997 general election, Brown became Chancellor and Balls continued to work as an economic adviser to him. He went on to serve as Chairman of HM Treasury's Council of Economic Advisers.
While he was chief economic adviser to the Treasury, Balls attended the Bilderberg annual conference of politicians, financiers and businessmen in 2001 and 2003, and returned to the United Kingdom on Conrad Black's private jet on both occasions. In 2010 when after details were reported in the press, Balls commented, "It saved the taxpayer the cost of a plane fare and on both occasions I declared it at the time to the permanent secretary in the normal way."
In July 2004, Balls was selected to stand as Labour and Co-operative candidate for the parliamentary seat of Normanton in West Yorkshire, a Labour stronghold whose MP, Bill O'Brien, was retiring. He stepped down as chief economic adviser to the Treasury, but was given a position at the Smith Institute, a political think tank. HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office confirmed that "the normal and proper procedures were followed."
Member of Parliament
In the 2005 general election, he was elected MP for Normanton with a majority of 10,002 and 51.2% of the vote. After the Boundary Commission proposed boundary changes which would abolish the constituency, Balls ran a campaign, in connection with the local newspaper the Wakefield Express, to save the seat and, together with the three other Wakefield MPs (his wife Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh and Jon Trickett), fought an unsuccessful High Court challenge against the Boundary Commission's proposals.
In March 2007 he was selected to be the Labour Party candidate for the new Morley and Outwood constituency, which contains parts of the abolished Normanton and Morley and Rothwell constituencies. On 5 February 2013 MP Ed Balls voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.
Balls became Economic Secretary to the Treasury, a junior ministerial position in HM Treasury, in the government reshuffle of May 2006. When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister on 27 Jun 2007, Balls was promoted to Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
In October 2008, Balls announced that the government had decided to scrap SATs tests for 14-year-olds, a move which was broadly welcomed by teachers, parent groups and opposition MPs. The decision to continue with SATs tests for 11-year-olds was described by head teachers' leader Mick Brookes as a missed opportunity.
In December 2008, in the wake of the Baby P case, Ed Balls intervened directly in the running of Haringey Social Services, ordering the immediate dismissal without compensation of Sharon Shoesmith the Director of Children's Services. David Cameron had also called for her dismissal. Prior to her dismissal, Shoesmith had been widely praised in her former role as Director of Education, though she was handicapped by having no social work background. An emergency OFSTED report ordered by Balls in November 2008 following the child abuse trial found that safeguarding arrangements were inadequate though Shoesmith's lawyers claimed the final report was changed. Shoesmith subsequently brought a Judicial review against Balls, Ofsted and Haringey Council and a series of appeals followed. The Conservative Opposition supported Ball's right to dismiss her "because ministers want to uphold the principle that they – and not the courts, through judicial review – should be responsible for their decisions". She received compensation because her sacking had been "procedurally unfair" and the Department for Children, Schools and Families was subsequently refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. In October 2013 it was reported that Shoesmith had agreed an out-of-court settlement with her former employer Haringey Council; unconfirmed reports referred to a sum of 'up to £600,000'. Appeal Court judge Lord Neuberger had described Balls' dismissal of Shoesmith as 'unlawful', but in a statement issued on 29 October, Balls asserted that 'faced with the same situation [he] would do the same thing again.'
Balls sponsored the Children, Schools and Families Bill which had its first reading on 19 November 2009. Part of the proposed legislation will see regulation of parents who home educate their children in England, introduced in response to the Badman Review, with annual inspections to determine quality of education and welfare of the child. Home educators across the UK petitioned their MPs to remove the proposed legislation.
Several parts of the bill, including the proposed register for home educators, and compulsory sex education lessons, were abandoned as they had failed to gain cross party support prior to the pending May 2010 election.
Labour leadership election
Following the resignation of Gordon Brown as both Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, Balls announced on 19 May 2010 that he was standing in the election to replace Brown. Balls was the third candidate to secure the minimum of 33 nominations from members of the Parliamentary Labour Party in order to enter the leadership race. The other contenders were former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, former Health Secretary Andy Burnham, backbencher Diane Abbott and former Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, who would go on to win.
New Labour Leader Ed Miliband appointed Balls Shadow Home Secretary on 8 October 2010, a job he held until 20 January 2011, when the resignation of Alan Johnson due to "personal reasons" led Miliband to announce Balls as Labour's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. As Shadow Chancellor, Balls regularly appears with Miliband at joint press conferences relating to Labour policy. Together with Miliband, Balls has promoted a "five-point plan for jobs and growth" since he took office as Shadow Chancellor. The plan is described as aimed at helping the UK economy, and involves reinstating the bonus tax to fund building more social homes, bringing forward long-term investment, cutting VAT to 17.5%, cutting VAT on home improvements to 5% for one year, and instigating a one-year national insurance break.
Balls revealed in January 2012 that he will continue with the public sector pay freeze which led to opposition from Len McCluskey. He had a bruising exchange in the House of Commons with George Osborne regarding the Libor rate scandal, where Osborne accused Balls of being involved in the scandal. Conservative MPs became unhappy after Bank of England deputy governor, Paul Tucker denied encouragement to pressurise Barclays with Andrea Leadsom saying Osborne had made a mistake and should apologise.
Balls has played a prominent role in the Fabian Society. In 1992 he wrote a Fabian pamphlet advocating Bank of England independence, a policy adopted when Gordon Brown became Chancellor in 1997.
Balls was elected Vice-Chair of the Fabian Society for 2006 and Chair of the Fabian Society for 2007. As Vice-Chair of the Fabian Society, he launched the Fabian Life Chances Commission report in April 2006 and opened the Society's Next Decade lecture series in November 2006, arguing for closer European cooperation on the environment.
Balls has been a central figure in New Labour's economic reform agenda. He and Gordon Brown have differed from the Blairites in being keen to stress their roots in Labour party intellectual traditions such as Fabianism and the co-operative movement as well as their modernising credentials in policy and electoral terms. In a New Statesman interview in March 2006, Martin Bright writes that Balls "says the use of the term 'socialist' is less of a problem for his generation than it has been for older politicians like Blair and Brown, who remain bruised by the ideological warfare of the 1970s and 1980s".
"When I was at college, the economic system in eastern Europe was crumbling. We didn't have to ask the question of whether we should adopt a globally integrated, market-based model. For me, it is now a question of what values you have. Socialism, as represented by the Labour Party, the Fabian Society, the Co-operative movement, is a tradition I can be proud of", said Balls.
In January 2015, during the television show Channel 4's Big Fat Anniversary Quiz, comedian Russell Brand hit out at Balls, calling him a "clicky-wristed snidey c***". Balls responded by calling Brand a "pound shop Ben Elton."
He married Yvette Cooper MP, who later became Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in Eastbourne on 10 January 1998. Cooper is Member of Parliament for Morley & Outwood's neighbouring constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford. They have three children. Cooper and Balls were the first married couple to serve together in the British cabinet.
Balls was fined in June 2013 for going through a red light in December 2012. He has also admitted speeding in April 2013 and using his mobile phone whilst driving during the 2010 General Election campaign.
In September 2010, the British Stammering Association announced that Balls had become a patron of the Association. Its Chief Executive, Norbert Lieckfeldt, paid tribute to him for having been very public in his declaration that he has at times struggled with his speech.
Allegations over allowances
In September 2007, with his wife Yvette Cooper MP, he was accused by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker of "breaking the spirit of Commons rules" by using MPs' allowances to help pay for a £655,000 home in north London. Balls and Cooper bought a four bedroom house in Stoke Newington, and registered this as their second home (rather than their home in Castleford, West Yorkshire) in order to qualify for up to £44,000 a year to subsidise a reported £438,000 mortgage under the Commons Additional Costs Allowance, of which they claimed £24,400. Both worked in London full-time and their children attended local London schools. Balls and Cooper claimed that "The whole family travel between their Yorkshire home and London each week when Parliament is sitting. As they are all in London during the week, their children have always attended the nearest school to their London house."
Balls and Cooper "flipped" the designation of their second home three times within the space of two years. In June 2008 they were referred to the Standards Commissioner over allegations that they were claiming expenses for what was effectively their main home in London, their combined claim was £24,000 i.e. "slightly more" than the single MP allowance. The commissioner exonerated them, adding that their motives were not for profit as they paid full capital gains tax.
Fined for failing to stop after a car "crash"
On 5 August 2014 Ed Balls was fined £900 and given five penalty points on his driving licence for failing to stop after a car accident. He said he knew that the cars had touched, but didn't stop to check as he didn't think any damage had been done.
Balls, alerted by an assistant to an article about him and urged to search Twitter for it, accidentally entered his intended search term in the wrong box and ended up sending a tweet saying "Ed Balls" on 28 April 2011. The unusual tweet was spotted and retweeted by thousands (Balls was unaware that it was possible to delete a tweet). The incident is now celebrated as 'Ed Balls Day' on its anniversary. When invited to send something to be auctioned to raise funds for the party in 2015, Balls submitted a framed, signed printout of the tweet.
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Ed Balls is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Morley and Outwood
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ed Balls.|
- Ed Balls official constituency website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Normanton
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood
|Economic Secretary to the Treasury
|Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families
|Shadow Secretary of State for Education
|Shadow Home Secretary
|Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer