Happy Ed Balls day, one and all

We just can't leave that infamous tweet alone.

Two years ago today, Ed Balls tweeted his own name:

It was a name search gone awry. But, crucially, the Shadow Chancellor never deleted it, so 15,000 of us have now enjoyed retweeting it, and a meme was born. Today, it is celebrated:

The man himself gave an interview to the Mirror yesterday, in which he expressed his bafflement at people's fondness for tweeting his name (with a dig at Osborne thrown in for good measure):

I think the best thing I can do is not look at Twitter and bury my head in the sand - like George Osborne on the economy.

His tweet made "news":

Google got in on the act (not really):

It even spread off Twitter into the real world:

And people have inserted it into the world of cartoons:

[If this kind of thing floats your boat, Buzzfeed has a pretty exhaustive list.]

As well as people just tweeting "Ed Balls" (and trust me, there will be lots of those today), it spawned copycat tweets:

There are even now "Ed Balls" hipsters:

And those who express their enjoyment through song:

Twitter will most likely feel like this today:

Have we reached "Peak Ed Balls"? The Guardian advises going for a walk in the sunshine instead, which might not be a bad idea...

Ed Balls, obvs. Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.