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Ed Balls

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Ed Balls

The Right Honourable
Edward Balls
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Assumed office
20 January 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Alan Johnson
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
8 October 2010 – 20 January 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Alan Johnson
Succeeded by Yvette Cooper
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
In office
11 May 2010 – 8 October 2010
Leader Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Preceded by Michael Gove (CSF)
Succeeded by Andy Burnham
Secretary of State for Children,
Schools and Families
In office
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
In office
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
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Constituency created
Majority 1,101 (2.3%)
Member of Parliament
for Normanton
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Bill O'Brien
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Majority 10,002 (51.2%)
Personal details
Born Edward Michael Balls
(1967-02-25) 25 February 1967
Norwich, Norfolk, England
Political party Labour Co-operative
Spouse(s) Yvette Cooper
Alma mater Keble College, Oxford
Harvard University
Profession Politician
Religion Church of England[1]
Website Official website

Edward Michael "Ed" Balls (born 25 February 1967) is a British Labour Party and Co-operative Party[2] 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.

Early life

Keble College, Oxford

Balls' father is the zoologist Michael Balls; his mother is Carolyn Janet Balls (born Riseborough).[3] 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.[4][5] 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.[6] Later he attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, where he was a Kennedy Scholar specialising in Economics.[6]

Balls joined the Labour Party in 1983 while still at school.[4] While at Oxford he was a partially active member of the Labour Club, but also signed up to the Conservative Association, "because they used to book top-flight political speakers, and only members were allowed to attend their lectures" according to friends.[7] 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.[8]

Early career

Balls was from 1989 to 1990 a teaching fellow in the Department of Economics, Harvard University.[9]

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."[10]

Political career

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."[11]

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,[12] 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.[13] On 5 February 2013 MP Ed Balls voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.[14]


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,[15] a move which was broadly welcomed by teachers, parent groups and opposition MPs.[16] The decision to continue with SATs tests for 11-year-olds was described by head teachers' leader Mick Brookes as a missed opportunity.[17]

In December 2008, in the wake of the Baby P case,[18] 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.[19] David Cameron had also called for her dismissal.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] Shoesmith subsequently brought a Judicial review against Balls, Ofsted and Haringey Council[21] and a series of appeals followed.[18] 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".[22] She received compensation because her sacking had been "procedurally unfair"[23] and the Department for Children, Schools and Families was subsequently refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.[18] 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.'[24]

Balls sponsored the Children, Schools and Families Bill which had its first reading on 19 November 2009.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27]

Labour leadership election

At the 2010 general election, Balls narrowly won the newly created Morley and Outwood seat with 37.6% of the vote.[28][29] The general election resulted in a hung parliament, with the Conservatives having the most votes and seats, but no overall majority. Several days after the election, on 11 May, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats announced that they would form a coalition government, shortly after Gordon Brown resigned as both Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party.

Balls announced, in Nottingham, 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.

Shadow Cabinet

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.[30] 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.[31]

Balls revealed in January 2012 that he will continue with the public sector pay freeze which led to opposition from Paul Tucker denied encouragement to pressurise Barclays with Andrea Leadsom saying Osborne had made a mistake and should apologise.[32]

Political activities

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.[6][33]

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[34] and opened the Society's Next Decade lecture series in November 2006,[35] 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".[36] "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.[36]

Personal life

He married Yvette Cooper MP, who later became Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in Eastbourne on 10 January 1998.[37] Cooper is Member of Parliament for Morley & Outwood's neighbouring constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford. They have three children.[38] Cooper and Balls were the first married couple to serve together in the British cabinet.[39]

Balls was fined in June 2013 for going through a red light in December 2012.[40] He has also admitted speeding in April 2013 and using his mobile phone whilst driving during the 2010 General Election.[40]

Ed Balls is a fan of Norwich City.[41]

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.[42][43][44]

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.[45] 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."[46]

Balls and Cooper "flipped" the designation of their second home three times within the space of two years.[47]

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.[47] The commissioner exonerated them, adding that their motives were not for profit as they paid full capital gains tax.[47]

Fined for failing to stop after a car "crash"

On 5 August 2014 Ed Balls was fined £900 and given 5 penalty points on his driving license for failing to stop after a car "crash". He claimed he knew that the cars had touched, but didn't stop to check as he didn't think any damage had been done.[48]

See also


  1. ^ "The fighter –– Ed Balls".  
  2. ^ "Ed Balls". The Labour Party. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010. Ed Balls is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Morley and Outwood 
  3. ^ Who's Who, published by A & C Black, (2001 edition) ISBN 0713654325
  4. ^ a b Matt Chorley (12 September 2010). "Ed Balls: Running his race to the beat of the people's drum".  
  5. ^ "Ed Balls MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury".  
  6. ^ a b c John Rentoul (30 March 2011). "Origins of the Cameron-Balls Feud". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 3 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Revealed: How Ed Balls was a Tory under Thatcher], Guy Adamns".  
  8. ^ Calder, Jonathan. "Labour's private school heroes".  
  9. ^ "Ed Balls:Labour and Co-operative MP for Morley and Outwood, and Shadow Chancellor". The Co-operative party. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Brian Brady (25 July 2010). "Ed Balls twice hitched a life in Lord Black's jet".  
  11. ^ Winnett, Robert (12 November 2007). "Call for inquiry over Balls's think tank". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "MP Ed is calm over his future". Wakefield Express. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "Hansard - House of Commons - 23 Apr 2007. col.754". Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  14. ^ "The House of Commons.2013.Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012-2013". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  15. ^ Curtis, Polly (14 October 2008). "Sats for 14-year-olds are scrapped".  
  16. ^ Garner, Richard (15 October 2008). "National tests for 14-year-olds are scrapped after marking chaos".  
  17. ^ "Tests scrapped for 14-year-olds".  
  18. ^ a b c "Timeline of Baby P case". BBC news. 15 February 2012. Archived from the original on 4 November 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "Sharon Shoesmith sacked after Baby P scandal". The Daily Telegraph (London). 8 December 2008. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Donovan, Tim (27 May 2011). "Profile: Sharon Shoesmith". BBC News. Archived from the original on 26 April 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Harrison, Angela (1 April 2010). "Ofsted changed Shoesmith report". BBC News. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  22. ^ Butler, Patrick; Watt, Nicholas (27 May 2011). "Sharon Shoesmith turns on Ed Balls after court rules her dismissal unfair". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  23. ^ "Sharon Shoesmith Sacking: Baby Peter director wins appeal". BBC News. 27 May 2011. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  24. ^ Holhouse, Matthew (29 October 2013). "'"Baby P boss Sharon Shoesmith's payout 'shocking. The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. 
  25. ^ "Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009-10". 8 April 2010. Archived from the original on 27 November 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  26. ^ "Home educators in record petition of MPs". BBC News. 9 December 2009. Archived from the original on 10 December 2009. 
  27. ^ "Ed Balls drops key education reforms". BBC News. 7 April 2010. Archived from the original on 8 April 2010. 
  28. ^ "Election 2010". The BBC. Archived from the original on 9 April 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "'"Education secretary Ed Balls avoids 'Portillo moment. BBC News. 7 May 2010. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  30. ^ "'"Alan Johnson 'to quit front-line politics. BBC News. 20 January 2011. Archived from the original on 21 January 2011. 
  31. ^ "Labour's plan for jobs and growth".  
  32. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Mulholland, Hélène (10 July 2012). "George Osborne faces Tory pressure to apologise to Ed Balls". Guardian newspapers. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  33. ^ Kisiel, Ryan (20 January 2011). "Ed Balls reveals his struggle with secret stammer". Mail Online (London: Daily Mail). Archived from the original on 25 January 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "The Fabian Society - Narrowing the Gap: The final report of the Fabian Commission on Life Chances and Child Poverty". Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  35. ^ "Ed Balls 'Next Decade' lecture: Britain's Next Decade". The Fabian Society. 1 November 2006. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  36. ^ a b "Interview: Ed Balls". New Statesman. 20 March 2006. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  37. ^ Debrett's People of Today 2011", Extract Editions""". 2011. p. 77. Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  38. ^ "Health minister celebrates birth". The Daily Telegraph (London). 27 August 2001. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  39. ^ "The Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC News. 30 November 2009. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  40. ^ a b "Ed Balls fined for going through red traffic light". BBC news. 28 June 2013. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  41. ^ "Ed Balls-profile". London: The Telegraph. 27 October 2007. Archived from the original on 9 September 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  42. ^ "Ed Balls MP becomes BSA patron".  
  43. ^ Riddell, Mary (23 January 2010). "Ed Balls: People who stammer avoid certain situations,but in my job you can't".  
  44. ^ "I've battled a stammer all my life, reveals Schools Secretary Ed Balls".  
  45. ^ Hope, Christopher (24 September 2007). "Ed Balls claims £27,000 subsidy for 2nd home". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  46. ^ Hope, Christopher; Gammell, Kara (24 September 2007). "Ed Balls claims £27,000 subsidy for 2nd home". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  47. ^ a b c Prince, Rosa (15 May 2009). "Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper 'flipped' homes three times: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  48. ^ "Shadow chancellor Ed Balls fined over car accident". BBC News (London). 5 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bill O'Brien
Member of Parliament for Normanton
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood
Political offices
Preceded by
Ivan Lewis
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Kitty Ussher
Preceded by
Alan Johnson
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families
Succeeded by
Michael Gove
Preceded by
Michael Gove
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
Succeeded by
Andy Burnham
Preceded by
Alan Johnson
Shadow Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Yvette Cooper
Preceded by
Alan Johnson
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
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