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Balls avoids a “Portillo moment” (just)

Balls survives with a hugely reduced majority.

The Tories threw everything they had at him, but Ed Balls has avoided a "Portillo moment". Still, as the Schools Secretary said, it was a close-run thing. His Tory opponent, Antony Calvert, aided by Lord Ashcroft, ran a dogged campaign and reduced his majority from 9,784 to just 1,101.

Balls's survival is a boost for Gordon Brown (whose fiercest Labour enemy, Charles Clarke, has just lost his seatin Norwich South), and we can expect the Schools Secretary to go forward as the Brownite candidate in any future Labour leadership election.

I was always rather bemused by the Tories' obsession with defeating Balls. If he is such a destructive tribalist surely it is in their interests for him to remain in parliament? But perhaps giving Balls the fright of his life was pleasure enough.