Don’t focus on the Lib Dems; don’t slash public spending; don’t lose the centre ground
The dilemma of a leadership candidate writing for a newspaper website behind a paywall (those with access can read it on The Times website; others can read the article on Ed Balls' own website.
He wants more focus on the Tories; less on LibDem "cannon fodder".
while we must win back voters lost to the Lib Dems, we must not let the Tories off the hook. Even if Lib Dem ministers are wheeled out by Downing Street to defend the most unpopular decisions, we must not forget this is fundamentally a Conservative Government.
Balls challenges the primacy of the deficit, claiming it is a deflationary trap set by the media and the Coalition:
Labour needs strong leadership to make a credible argument against slashing public spending and raising VAT, which will increase unemployment and risk a double-dip recession. Labour must have the confidence to set out an alternative based on a more sensible timetable for deficit reduction, fairer tax rises and a plan to boost jobs and growth.
Finally, Balls picks up on David Miliband's campaign frame that this is a "head versus heart" choice between the brothers Miliband, suggesting dangers in both approaches.
It’s no good simply being credible if we reach the next election and nobody can distinguish between David Cameron, Nick Clegg and our new leader; but it’s no good just being radical if we lose touch with the mainstream views of working people.
The Labour Party must not fall into the trap of thinking it needs to choose between the heart and the head. Our next leader must have the judgment, strength and experience to be both radical and credible.
The call to combine radicalism and credibility is a riff on an old John Smith line, which I recall that Douglas Alexander used to be fond of quoting.
So Balls offers a triple bill of traps to avoid and a middle way through them.
Given Balls' warning against "safety-first triangulation", we shall have to call Balls' attempt to come through the middle by avoiding the risks of both Miliband strategies (or perhaps fusing the best of them) something other than an attempt to triangulate the Milibands.