Did Charlie Whelan really put his cigarette into Ed Balls’ coke can?

The Telegraph has unearthed an STV documentary on the early days of Labour in the Treasury in 1997. It makes fascinating watching for all sorts of reasons. It feels not unlike an episode of The Thick of It, with Ed Balls a bit like Ollie Reeder to Whelan’s Malcolm Tucker. Everyone looks so young, Gordon Brown particularly.  Ed Miliband has become significantly less geeky over time, too.

The Telegraph article is full of derision for Labour’s removal of regulatory powers from the Bank of England.  That principle seems fine to me, and fairly logical. If you give the bank the power to set interest rates independently, then you need to get someone else to do the regulation. Labour’s failure to build an effectively regulatory framework for the banks can’t be pinned on that.

There is an arrogance about the way they went about it. The Permanent Secretary of the time was clearly worried about all this change. If you are going to reform, you need to just get on and do it, but they did seem to be enjoying smashing the established order a little bit too much.

There is a bit of an editing glitch – at least that’s what I hope it was. It is very odd to see people actually smoking in an office. Even then, you wouldn’t be allowed to do that in most workplaces, but they were puffing away like it was going out of fashion. At one point Charlie Whelan puts his cigarette out into the coke can next to Ed Balls. A few minutes later, you see Ed drinking out of the same can.

Many of you will be coming in from canvassing at around now, so make yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy it. There are two other videos here, one of Balls, Brown and Miliband getting a tour of Number 11 and one of Brown throwing a tiny strop at being put down the pecking order on the Today programme to make way for the Tory leadership election.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Tony Greaves 14th Feb '15 - 5:40pm

    It’s in character (Whelan). Also in 2007 there were still lots of offices (particularly in the private sector) where smoking was banned if someone objected, and still plenty of arrogant prats who just smoked anyway.


  • Tony Greaves 14th Feb '15 - 5:41pm

    I meant “unless someone objected” of course.

  • Not a good idea to be too sniffy about the smoking issue Caron, there are many in the party who hate the notion of smoking bans in offices.

  • Amused to wonder how Tony Greaves knows that there are plenty of private sector offices where smoking is apparently as rampant as in an episode of Mad Men.

    Tony Greaves has never struck me as someone who is in any way acquainted with the private sector…

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