Ed Balls reflects on losing his seat. Photo: BBC screengrab
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"I had hours of uncertainty": Ed Balls recalls the pain of his election night defeat

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the former shadow chancellor reflects on Labour's defeat and losing his seat.

Labour's former shadow chancellor Ed Balls has given an exclusive interview to the BBC about Labour's defeat and losing his seat.

He recalls how he came to realise his precarious position on election night, when he eventually lost Morley & Outwood to the Tories after an agonising recount:

I didn’t know that I was actually going to lose my seat until the returning officer gave us the result at 7.30 in the morning, so I had hours of uncertainty.

He tells Nick Robinson that before then, he "thought it was a real possibility" that he would be heading to No 11 as Chancellor.

In a reflective and almost emotional interview, Balls says: "Politics is a brutal business, and it’s tough . . . You can be here today and gone tomorrow, and that is democracy. In the end, although it’s hard for me, I am a symbol of the vibrancy of our democracy."

When asked if he was one of the reasons Labour was not elected, he replies: "Of course . . . All of us have to bear our share of the responsibility . . . He [Ed Miliband] didn’t persuade people he could be the prime minister, but I didn’t persuade people that I could be the chancellor either."

Reflecting on his differences with Miliband, Balls admits, "I think I wanted to be more pro-business, but I also backed Ed Miliband 100 per cent . . . in the end, neither he or I persuaded people."

When asked about whether he would go back into politics, Balls smiles "No by-elections . . . Outside of politics – that’s how I’m thinking about things." He says he won't be "dashing back to politics", and wants to write about economics, but does add "never say never" when asked about whether he will end up with a politics-related career. Strictly sounds unlikely though: "Well, look, three marathons mean I’m fit, but am I really fit enough for Strictly?"

He also reveals that he will be playing no part in his wife Yvette Cooper's campaign to be Labour leader: "I’m going to be supporting and voting for Yvette of course . . . I’m not going to play any part in her campaign, that’s her campaign and they’re her ideas, that’s not for me," he says, adding that he will "do more to help the rest of the family".

Watch the full interview here.


Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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“Trembling, shaking / Oh, my heart is aching”: the EU out campaign song will give you chills

But not in a good way.

You know the story. Some old guys with vague dreams of empire want Britain to leave the European Union. They’ve been kicking up such a big fuss over the past few years that the government is letting the public decide.

And what is it that sways a largely politically indifferent electorate? Strikes hope in their hearts for a mildly less bureaucratic yet dangerously human rights-free future? An anthem, of course!

Originally by Carly You’re so Vain Simon, this is the song the Leave.EU campaign (Nigel Farage’s chosen group) has chosen. It is performed by the singer Antonia Suñer, for whom freedom from the technofederalists couldn’t come any suñer.

Here are the lyrics, of which your mole has done a close reading. But essentially it’s just nature imagery with fascist undertones and some heartburn.

"Let the river run

"Let all the dreamers

"Wake the nation.

"Come, the new Jerusalem."

Don’t use a river metaphor in anything political, unless you actively want to evoke Enoch Powell. Also, Jerusalem? That’s a bit... strong, isn’t it? Heavy connotations of being a little bit too Englandy.

"Silver cities rise,

"The morning lights,

"The streets that meet them,

"And sirens call them on

"With a song."

Sirens and streets. Doesn’t sound like a wholly un-authoritarian view of the UK’s EU-free future to me.

"It’s asking for the taking,

"Trembling, shaking,

"Oh, my heart is aching."

A reference to the elderly nature of many of the UK’s eurosceptics, perhaps?

"We’re coming to the edge,

"Running on the water,

"Coming through the fog,

"Your sons and daughters."

I feel like this is something to do with the hosepipe ban.

"We the great and small,

"Stand on a star,

"And blaze a trail of desire,

"Through the dark’ning dawn."

Everyone will have to speak this kind of English in the new Jerusalem, m'lady, oft with shorten’d words which will leave you feeling cringéd.

"It’s asking for the taking.

"Come run with me now,

"The sky is the colour of blue,

"You’ve never even seen,

"In the eyes of your lover."

I think this means: no one has ever loved anyone with the same colour eyes as the EU flag.

I'm a mole, innit.