Should We Really Buy Shares in George Osborne and Sell Balls?
7 Dec 2012 at 17:11
James Forsyth wrote in last week’s Spectator that now was the time to buy shares in George Osborne. I mentioned this to a Tory MP this morning, a mere 48 hours after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. “Yes,” he said. “They’ve risen from 2p to 4p.” Cuttingly cruel. It is true to say that Osborne was saved, at least in part, by the shambolic Commons performance of the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. His reply to the Autumn Statement was all over the place, something which he had the good grace to admit later. However, he blamed his stammer for what happened. I admire Ed Balls for overcoming a stammer. In his big set piece speeches I have never seen much sign of it, and he is capable of delivering real barnstormers. It seemed to me that Balls’ performance was less down to a re-emergence of a stammer but more to a lack of preparation and being caught wrong-footed. This came on the back of a very weak showing from Ed Miliband at PMQs. Labour MPs were mainly looking at their feet. When their man has done well, they generally take to Twitter to trumpet their leader’s performance. On Wednesday Labour MPs maintained a Twitter silence for quite some time after PMQS and the end of Ed Balls’s speech. And then, as one, they started to complain about those nasty Tories braying at Ed Balls because of his stammer. Clearly the word had gone out that this was how to turn disaster into a triumph. It didn’t really work. For the first time, Bruiser Balls looked politically vulnerable.