Ed vs Boris – a load of old Balls

Today has been Helen Morgan’s day. First she was sworn in and then she questioned the Prime Minister about the state of North Shropshire’s ambulance services.

But we could not let this day go by without mentioning Ed’s question to the Prime Minister, which was not without amusing incident.

Poor Ed has been misidentified twice this week. On the New Year’s Day edition of The Weakest LInk (and isn’t Romesh Ranganathan an inspired choice for that?) Jenni Falconer was asked which Ed was the leader of the Liberal Democrats. “Milliband?” she  asked, without much confidence.

Today Speaker Lindsay Hoyle had one of those moments when he introduced Ed at PMQs:

I call Ed Balls—I mean Ed Davey.

Ed replied:

Happy new year, Mr Speaker! I am sure the Prime Minister will want to join me and my Liberal Democrat colleagues in welcoming my hon. Friend the new Member for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan).

People’s already high heating bills are about to jump by more than 50%, with average energy bills rising by nearly £700 a year. Gas price rises will push millions more families into fuel poverty, when we know many are already afraid even to open their heating bills. Does the Prime Minister accept that he could be doing much more than he is to prevent millions of people from going hungry and cold this year while he remains—for now at least—in the warmth and comfort of No. 10?

Boris Johnson of course took the mention of the word balls and ran with it. Pretty disgraceful when you consider that there are millions of vulnerable people wondering how they are going to heat their homes, disabled people wondering how they are going to pay the extra costs to keep their breathing machines going or charge their stairlifts or scooters, all of which use a whole load of electricity. He just doesn’t care.

Of course I welcome the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan) to her place; but as for the rest of what the right hon. Gentleman had to say, I think balls was the word—you were right first time, Mr Speaker. Your word, Mr Speaker, not mine. I simply advise the House to go back over what I have just said about all the protections that we are putting in place—the winter fuel payments, the warm home allowance, what we are doing to support pensioners, the £650 million we are putting in to support local councils. He talks about long-term energy solutions; is this the same Ed Balls/Davey who was an Energy Minister?

Compare and contrast with how Ed as Energy secretary, a decade ago, was seriously concerned about fuel poverty and was determined to do something about it. A lot more than can be said for the current incumbents.

After his question, Ed had some fun on Twitter:

And look who else got in on the act…

I might have to give in to temptation and buy his book now.

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

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  • Neil James Sandison 5th Jan '22 - 11:06pm

    The only one who was talking balls was the prime minister not once but twice he stated the warm homes discount a sum of £140 was a weekly benefit . It is in fact a one off payment for the whole of the winter period . Did the prime minister deliberately mislead parliament ? .

  • Barry Lofty 6th Jan '22 - 10:29am

    I enjoyed Ed Daveys’ reference to Johnson staying in No10, ” for now at least” but it was a great pity the Speaker got his name mixed up with Ed Balls as it gave motormouth the opportunity to sidestep Ed Daveys’ really important question and get a cheap jibe in.

  • John Marriott 6th Jan '22 - 10:38am

    Ed Balls – the master of reinvention. A bit like Portillo; but probably not Opik? Having an unfortunate surname can get you into difficulties, I’m afraid. A friend of mine used to coach young Ed rugby at Nottingham High School, the Alma Mater, incidentally, of both Ed Davey and Ken Clarke (there’s a good quiz question in the “what do they have in common” category). My friend told me that, before his team went out to play he used to tell young Ed to make sure that, if the referee asked him his name, he gave him it IN FULL.

    Who could forget that memorable speech that Michael Heseltine gave to the 1994 Tory Party Conference when, referring to Gordon Brown’s speech on Labour’s new economic policy, he announced; “It wasn’t Brown’s, it was Balls”?

    As for the topic of this piece, I have only one question; “Why on earth did we allow the Tories to privatise the energy industry in the first place?” It’s a pity that ‘Sid’ found out about it!

  • Barry Lofty 6th Jan '22 - 12:16pm

    Quite so John, regarding the privatisation of the energy industry!,also enjoyed your rugby story I needed cheering up!!!

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