The Staggers 7 May 2010 Balls avoids a “Portillo moment” (just) Balls survives with a hugely reduced majority. Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up 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. › BNP fails to secure seats in Barking and Stoke Central George Eaton is senior online editor of the New Statesman. Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!