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22 May 2015updated 26 Jul 2021 5:07am

“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.

By Anoosh Chakelian

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.”

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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?”

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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.