May 8th, 2015

My words at the Morley and Outwood count

Can I start by thanking the Returning Officer and all the counting staff, it’s been a very, very long night, so thank you to you for all staying on to finish this job here today, thank you.

Let me start by saying to my political opponents in Westminster, congratulations.

And in particular to thank the other candidates, but to congratulate the new MP for Morley and Outwood, Andrea Jenkyns.

Andrea you have fought a really decent campaign and you’ve done so in a very good way and I know you will work really hard to be the Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood and you’ll have the support of the constituency to do that very important job. So thank you for the way in which you have conducted this campaign.

I’d like to thank all my campaign team who have worked 7 days a week for 5 years and my agent Neil Dawson and all of the team. It’s the best campaign team and I’m hugely grateful, and I’m just sorry we couldn’t quite do enough to repeat what we did in 2010.

It’s been a great honour to be the Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood and before that for Normanton. I have found it a great privilege and we have done some important things to represent individuals in times of difficulty or hardship, but also to make advances in this constituency and in Westminster.

Any personal disappointment I have at this result, is as nothing compared to the sense of sorrow I have at the result that Labour has achieved across the United Kingdom tonight, in Scotland, but also in England and in Wales and the sense of concern I have about the future.

We will now face 5 years where questions will arise about the future of our Union. About whether or not we can stay as a member of the European Union and fight for jobs and investment. Whether we can make sure we secure our National Health Service at a time of public spending cuts. Those are real concerns to me and to many people across the United Kingdom.

Even on this very difficult night I would just like to say, I’ve been proud to be a Labour and Cooperative Member of Parliament. We have always been a party which has been internationalist, because we believe we solve problems by working with other countries to solve them. We’ve always been a party which believed in the Union, because the pooling and sharing of risk which comes with our Union underpins justice and fairness. We’ve always been the party who founded the National Health Service and will do everything we can to secure the future of the National Health Service.

Even on this difficult night, I’m sure the Labour Party will emerge in the coming weeks and months, more united and more determined. And in the next few years, I think more than ever, we will need in Parliament and across the country a Labour Party absolutely determined to stand up for working people in this constituency and in our country.

I’m confident Labour will be back. Thank you very much.

Posted May 8th, 2015 by Ed
May 1st, 2015

Ed’s response to David Cameron’s failure to rule out cutting child benefit

Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to David Cameron’s latest interview on child benefit, said:

“After days of weasel words and prevarication David Cameron is still failing to rule out cutting child benefit and tax credits again.

“All he has said again is he won’t abolish child benefit, but he won’t deny he plans to cut it or take it away from millions of families. Everyone knows it’s impossible for the Tories to achieve their £12 billion of cuts to social security without hitting family budgets hard.

“Child benefit and tax credits are now on the ballot paper next week. While Labour will protect them, the whole country now knows the Tories will cut them again.”

ENDS

Posted May 1st, 2015 by Ed's team
April 30th, 2015

The Tories have now had two days to rule out further cuts to tax credits and child benefit – but have completely failed to do so

Over the last 48 hours the Tories have repeatedly failed to deny they are planning to cut child benefit and tax credits again if they win the election.

It’s impossible for the Tories to achieve their £12 billion of cuts to social security without making millions of working families worse off.

There is a big choice at next week’s election. An extreme and risky Tory plan that will hit family budgets or Labour’s better plan which will put working families first. Working people can’t afford to take the risk of five more years of the Tories.

Posted April 30th, 2015 by Ed
April 28th, 2015

Ed’s response to today’s GDP figures

“While the Tories have spent months patting themselves on the back these figures show they have not fixed the economy for working families.

“Tory economic policy may be helping a few at the top but for most people bills have gone up faster than wages, which are down £1600 a year since 2010. And now these disappointing figures show economic growth slowing down too. The Tories just don’t understand that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

“Working families can’t afford another five years of the Tories. Labour’s better plan will put working people first, make our economy stronger and ensure the recovery reaches everyone in every part of the country.

“Our plan will earn our way to higher living standards for all, not just a few. We will raise the minimum wage, cut business rates, guarantee apprenticeships for school leavers and expand free childcare for working parents. We will start building one million new homes, back renters and give first-time buyers a leg up the ladder by slashing stamp duty.

“And we will cut the deficit every year and balance the books in a fair way, while securing the future of our NHS. Unlike the Tories we have shown how we will pay for all our manifesto promises with no extra borrowing.

“The risk to families and our economy is a re-elected Tory government doubling the pace of spending cuts next year and taking Britain out of the EU. Working families and our NHS can’t afford five more years of the Tories.”

Ends

Posted April 28th, 2015 by Ed's team
April 27th, 2015

My speech in Glasgow on the SNP’s plans for extended fiscal austerity

Today is ten days until General Election day.

We meet here in the last full week of what is set to be one of the closest and most important general election campaigns we ever have faced.

At the heart of this election is a big choice.

Since I was last in Scotland, the publication of party manifestos has confirmed that the Tories are committed to extreme spending plans – bigger cuts than any other advanced economy in the next three years, spending cuts which are set to double next year.

And what the Tories won’t admit is their plans are so extreme they would end up cutting spending on the NHS.

Because countries round the world which have cut spending on this scale have cut health spending by an average of one per cent of GDP – the equivalent of £7 billion here in the UK.

When I last spoke here I set out how only a vote for a Labour Government would end Tory austerity and deliver change for working class Scots.

I argued that only Labour will deliver a higher bank levy, a mansion tax, the bank bonus tax, changes to pensions tax relief for the highest earners – which will fund extra investment for the NHS, education and jobs for young people starting this year.

Additional funds here in Scotland which will reach £800 million a year.

And I set out three reasons why the SNP could not end austerity here in Scotland.

Because the SNP do not support Labour’s progressive measures for new spending across the UK.

Because, for all their sound and fury, the fundamental truth is that the SNP are committed to a fiscal approach for Scotland which rejects the pooling and sharing of resources across the United Kingdom.

And because a vote for the SNP makes it more likely David Cameron stays in Downing Street.

SNP plans under scrutiny

Since then we have seen the SNP spending plans come under sustained scrutiny.

And we have seen the truth.

First, the comments from the SNP Deputy Leader Stuart Hosie have exposed the total hypocrisy of the SNP manifesto.

They try to claim they support Labour’s measures for fairer taxes across the UK.

Apparently they now support the additional funds for the NHS and youth jobs in Scotland, paid for by these measures.

Even though they voted against the 50p tax rate just this year in the Scottish Parliament.

And even though until their manifesto they had opposed the bankers’ bonus and mansion taxes.

But this last minute U-turn isn’t going to convince anyone that they are really progressive.

Because at the same time they are sticking to the position that they would vote to abolish the Barnett Formula…

… which is precisely the mechanism by which Scotland would benefit from these measures.

The SNP position is now utterly ridiculous.

Their manifesto commits them to vote for fair taxes at the top to provide additional funds for public services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But it goes on to make clear that on no account must these changes help Scotland – because that would mean the pooling and sharing of risk and resources across the UK, something to which they are fundamentally opposed.

And Stuart Hosie’s stark words when amongst the party faithful – revealed today – confirm it.

If these progressive measures were to apply to Scotland and deliver additional resources to Scottish public services, the SNP plan is to cry betrayal and call for another referendum.

On the grounds that full fiscal autonomy has not been delivered.

And this is the second area where scrutiny of the SNP manifesto has exposed the real truth.

We know that the SNP fiscal autonomy plan is to cut Scotland off from taxes raised in the rest of the UK.

The IFS confirmed last week that under the SNP’s policy the scale of the cuts and tax rises needed to fill the gap in the SNP plans caused by fiscal autonomy could:

“reach £9.7bn in 2019–20 (equivalent to £8.9 billion in today’s prices).”

These plans have had commentators and economists queuing up to back the IFS in saying that this would mean huge cuts and tax rises for the Scottish people and Scottish public services.

Jonathan Portes, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, has said:

“If the SNP plan for full fiscal autonomy were to go ahead then as a number of commentators have said that would lead to very very severe austerity in Scotland.”

The STUC has warned that the SNP Government’s own accounts were “a sobering reminder of some of the risks of full fiscal autonomy.”

Indeed, when the IFS analysed Nicola Sturgeon’s spending plans, they found that they meant longer austerity, bigger cuts, more debt and less money for public services than Labour’s plans.

They rejected SNP claims that somehow Scotland could double its growth rate to close the gap.

This is what they said:

“Even closing the gap over a longer ten or fifteen year horizon would require a step-change in Scottish economic performance, and revenue generation” that is “much easier to promise than it is to deliver.”

And they rejected the claim from the SNP that delaying fiscal autonomy for a couple of years would do anything other than delay the inevitable austerity.


This is what the IFS said:

“Delaying a move to full responsibility for a few years would not on its own deal with the fiscal gap though.
Indeed, if anything, given current spending and revenue forecasts, the gap would likely grow rather than shrink over the next few years. It would remain the case that full fiscal responsibility would likely entail substantial spending cuts or tax rises in Scotland.”

“reaching £9.7bn in 2019–20 (equivalent to £8.9 billion in today’s prices).”

The SNP simply cannot hide from the facts.

The SNP plans mean longer austerity, bigger cuts, more debt and less money for public services than Labour’s plans.

Not fiscal autonomy but extended fiscal austerity.

The SNP’s priority is independence not ending austerity

Because, of course, ending austerity isn’t the SNP’s real priority.

SNP MPs aren’t going to the House of Commons to fight poverty they are going to re-fight the referendum.

Scotland faces a choice between two roads.

A road to reforming our economy so it works for working people again.

Or a road to another referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon says this isn’t about another referendum.

But her Deputy Leader – when he thought he was only taking to the party faithful – has given the game away.

SNP MPs will demand things they know we would never deliver, like an end to the Barnett formula or end to UK pensions.

That is why I say working people in Scotland need a Labour government.

They need an end to food banks.

Action which the SNP don’t support.

They need an end to exploitative zero hours contracts.

Action which the SNP does not support.

They need fair tax changes at the top like on Pensions tax relief – again something the SNP do not support.

They need a higher minimum wage.

Something that only a Labour Government can deliver.

The last thing they need is to be back into another referendum so soon.

If Scotland elects Labour MPs they will spend every day working to make things better for working class people.

We know that SNP MPs will spend every day working for another referendum.

And they will make it more likely that the David Cameron remains as Prime Minister.

Conclusion

So as we enter the final ten days of this election campaign, this is the choice.

The extreme austerity of George Osborne and David Cameron’s plan.

Extended austerity with the SNP plan.

Or a vote for change.

A vote for a Party that believes that when working people succeed, Scotland and the UK succeeds.

Only a vote for a majority Labour Government will deliver in Wales, Northern Ireland, in England and here in Scotland

A real end to Tory austerity.

A better future for Britain.

A better future for working people.

And a better future for Scotland.

That’s what Labour’s first Budget will deliver.

But only a vote for Labour in ten days will make it happen.

Thank you

Posted April 27th, 2015 by Ed
April 26th, 2015

Wakefield Wildcats deserve their stadium

The Wakefield Wildcats and their supporters deserve a new stadium. That is why from the outset I have supported proposals for a new community stadium.

Back in 2012 we were told this development was the only viable proposal for a new stadium. As well as being a home for the Wildcats, a new stadium would bring badly needed jobs and investment into our part of the district.

I wrote to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles to back their plan and to urge him not to put planning obstacles in its path. Sadly, plans for the new community stadium have stalled; but the need for a new stadium has not gone away. Fans, the club and local people deserve a community stadium and the whole area would benefit from the new, good jobs it would bring.

That’s why everyone needs to get round the table again to hammer out a way forward. We need a renewed effort to get the stadium back on track.

With my Labour colleagues Mary Creagh and Jon Trickett, I will continue to work with the community stadium trust, fans and the Council to secure the future of the club and the new stadium.

Here is the statement we have made to the Council and to the Wakefield Express:

“Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ proud history is at the heart of the city’s sporting life. We have supported the community stadium process for several years, contacting Wakefield Council on several occasions. We will continue to work with the community stadium trust, fans and the Council to secure the future of the club and the new stadium. We stand ready to support the club in any way we can.”

We need a new stadium and I will always do everything I can to support the club.

Posted April 26th, 2015 by Ed
April 24th, 2015

HSBC is the latest in a long line of companies warning of the dangers of a re-elected Tory government taking Britain out of the EU

HSBC is just the latest in a long line of companies warning of the dangers of a re-elected Tory government taking Britain out of the European Union.

The big risk to our economy over the next few years is EU exit if the Tories win the election. It would have a disastrous impact on jobs, trade and investment in Britain. It’s a risk we cannot afford to take.

Labour will secure Britain’s place in a reformed EU and reform our banking industry so we have more competition and boost lending to business. This is how we defend British jobs and British business and put the national economic interest above party politics.

Posted April 24th, 2015 by Ed
April 23rd, 2015

IFS has confirmed that the Tories are committed to the most extreme spending plans of any political party, with bigger cuts than any other advanced economy in the next three years

The IFS has confirmed that the Tories are committed to the most extreme spending plans of any political party, with bigger cuts than any other advanced economy in the next three years.

And the IFS condemns the Tories for being ‘misleading’ about their plans for cuts to public services. The truth the Tories won’t admit is their plans are so extreme they would end up cutting the NHS. Countries which have cut spending on this scale have cut their health service by an average of one per cent of GDP – the equivalent of £7 billion.

The IFS also warns that Tory plans would mean radical changes to tax credits and child benefit. George Osborne must now come clean on his secret plans to take money away from millions of working families.

With Labour’s plan the IFS confirms that both the deficit and national debt will fall and that we have given more detail on how we will achieve this.

But the IFS’ numbers wrongly assume that Labour will get the current budget only into balance. Our manifesto pledge is to get the current budget not only into balance but into surplus as soon as possible in the next Parliament. How big that surplus will be, and how quickly we can achieve that in the next Parliament, will depend on what happens to wages and the economy.

The Tories might be able to make the cuts but the last five years show they will fail to cut the deficit as they claim. They have borrowed £200 billion more than they planned because their failure to boost living standards has led to tax revenues falling short.

Posted April 23rd, 2015 by Ed
April 20th, 2015

My speech on the Tories’ double deceit on the NHS

As Andy has said, David Cameron broke the promises he made about the NHS at the last election.

And now he is again asking people to take him on trust about what he’s saying at this election.

David Cameron broke his promises on the NHS before.

And he’ll break his promises again.

And nobody is going to trust the Tories with the NHS.

And let’s be clear, there is a double deceit going on here.

First, the Tories want people to believe that they are not planning cuts to the NHS.

And their manifesto claims the spending cuts they are planning in the next Parliament will be on the same scale as in this Parliament.

But the truth is the Tories’ spending plans actually mean doubling the pace of cuts next year.

As the Office for Budget Responsibility has said, the government’s Budget plans mean a “sharp acceleration” in the pace of cuts to public services.

They mean deeper spending cuts in the next three years than in the last five.

And the international evidence shows that in all the OECD countries which have tried to cut spending on this scale, health spending fell – down by an average of one per cent of GDP.

This is the equivalent to a £7 billion cut to the NHS.

And other countries which have cut public spending to the levels the Tories are planning have greater charging in their health services.

It is simply dishonest for the Tories to claim they can achieve this scale of spending cuts – double the cuts next year – without putting our NHS at risk.

Second, David Cameron claims he can somehow give the NHS an extra £8 billion, though not until 2020.

But he cannot say where the money is coming from.

The Tories have not identified a single penny of additional money for the NHS.

As Ed Miliband said, you can’t fund the NHS on an IOU.

In the last ten days Tory Ministers have been asked 60 times where the money is coming from and 60 times they have been totally unable to answer.

And David Cameron failed to answer again yesterday.

Typically, he made it up – and tried to claim this money is in the government’s figures.

But last month’s Budget did not include any extra money for the NHS.

We all know David Cameron is a serial offender when it comes to claims at election time.

He broke his promises on the NHS, on VAT and on tax credits last time.

And he’ll break his promises again.

Because on top of their extreme spending plans to double the cuts next year, the Tories have made billions of pounds of unfunded commitments in this election including £10 billion of tax cuts and billions of pounds for rail fare freezes and paid time off for public servants to volunteer.

Desperate promises made in the middle of a desperate Tory election campaign.

And the Tories cannot say where any of the money is coming from for any of them.

And with the Tories these unfunded tax promises will come before the NHS in the queue.

There is no extra money for the NHS under the Tory plan and it is dishonest of David Cameron to claim there is.

The fact is the only party with a fully-funded plan to raise extra revenue for the NHS straight after the election is the Labour Party.

People trusted David Cameron’s claims about the NHS at the last election.

But people will not trust his claims at this election.

Because David Cameron broke his promises last time and given, half a chance, he’ll end up breaking his promises this time.

You can’t trust the Tories with our National Health Service.

And as Liz will now explain, another five years of the Tories would be disastrous for our NHS.

ENDS

Posted April 20th, 2015 by Ed
April 20th, 2015

Transcript of Ed’s interview on Murnaghan

Murnaghan Interview with Ed Balls, Labour, Shadow Chancellor 19.04.15

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Well now, the Conservatives are once again evoking the spirit of Margaret Thatcher in an effort to win over undecided voters before polling on May 7th, they are promising a 1970s style sell-off of Lloyds Banking shares if they win the election but Labour say it is has been promised before and amounts to pre-election panic. Well I am joined now by Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, a very good morning to you Mr Balls. I want to start all this by first of all saying are you sure you will be Chancellor in a Miliband government, have you got that assurance?

ED BALLS: We’re not measuring any curtains, we’re going to fight every day until general election day. As Ed said a few weeks ago, when it comes to writing the first budget, that’s something the Ed Miliband and I are planning together and are going to do together.

DM: Has he told you you would be Chancellor? You are Shadow Chancellor but you could very well pick somebody else could he not? I mean as Mr Cameron was saying during the week, you were his third choice to be Shadow Chancellor.

ED BALLS: I think we’re being quite presumptuous here. Until the people have voted on election day we’re not going to take anything for granted. Ed Miliband’s the leader, he makes all the decisions about who’s in his government, I have never said to him I demand this job or I want this job but I’m the Shadow Chancellor, we’re working really closely together …

DM: So you’d settle for something else, you’d settle for Foreign Secretary or Home Secretary or something else?

ED BALLS: Look, I’m the Shadow Chancellor and I’m working very hard on Labour’s first budget which we want to do to start to change Britain and we’re working really closely together. I was saying today what an impressive job he’s done, he was saying today in another interview that I’ve done an impressive job as well but when it comes to the making of the first cabinet, that’s what the leader does.

DM: Okay, let me ask you about his first choice as Shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson, who had to resign several years ago but he was campaigning during the course of last week and Mr Johnson said this, ‘Glad to see that the party of financial responsibility features very large’ in the launch of your manifesto last week but he said ‘there’s no sound bite to equal the claim that we maxed out on your credit card, we need to do more on that.’ Do you agree with that?

ED BALLS: Look, Alan Johnson has been one of the people who’s been saying we should spend a lot more time debating the Tories charges about the last government and saying that it was a global financial crisis, it wasn’t Labour spending which caused the crisis, the Tories matched our spending plans, it wasn’t nurses and doctors that caused Lehman Brothers to go bankrupt in New York, those are all arguments I’ve made. Alan Johnson is saying …

DM: That’s not a sound bite, is it? It doesn’t count with ‘don’t give the keys back to those that crashed the car’. Are you proud, Shadow Chancellor, are you proud of every penny you spent in government? If you said that, that might counter it.

ED BALLS: But look, Alan Johnson is saying I should spend more time with sound bites about the past, I understand that argument. I think what people want to know in this election is about the future so we say let’s have an economy which works for working people, that is what people want and it is about the future.

DM: But it’s about the policies you had with immigration, are you proud of every penny you spent while in government?

ED BALLS: Of course not, of course not. Every government spends some things really, really well, we did some fabulous things with the NHS, with the minimum wage, we didn’t join the Euro, we made the Bank of England independent on interest rates but of course there was some spending we didn’t get right, of course that’s the case but the global financial crisis wasn’t caused by Labour spending. The lie from the Tories has always been Labour spending caused the global financial crisis, Alan’s saying that is total nonsense and tosh, you know it’s rubbish, I know it’s rubbish but actually the British people know it’s rubbish too.

DM: Well one of the by-products of that financial crisis was the ownership by the British public of shares in some of our biggest banks including Lloyds, you know where I’m going here. It’s a good idea isn’t it to give some money back to the shareholders, to the British taxpayers who dug Lloyds out of a hole?

ED BALLS: I want Lloyds and RBS back in the private sector to get our money back, to get the national debt down, of course I do. Look, the frustration here …

DM: But what about selling shares to the public? Giving them at a discount?

ED BALLS: Of course the public should be buying the shares but the fact is, as you said a moment ago, David Cameron promised this before the last election. He’s announced it seven times and it has taken him a lot longer than he thought. He was saying a few years ago he wanted to have pre-election a discounted sale of RBS and I’m afraid RBS has not yet turned round …

DM: Well exactly, because they are waiting for the share price to get to a proper level, to get above the level at which the government bought into it.

ED BALLS: It’s been taking too long.

DM: Okay, we can argue that but is it a good idea to sell it back to the public at a discounted rate so that they make some of the profits?

ED BALLS: My starting point is this, I want to make sure that we maximise the long term benefit for the taxpayer and I want to make sure we get the money in…

DM: That means you want it in the Treasury.

ED BALLS: Well look, but if people buy the shares the money is coming to the Treasury so of course I want to maximise the reduction of the national debt and all that money will go to the national debt. When the Tories sold off the Royal Mail a few months ago they said the minimum purchase for a small shareholder was £750 and then they sold it at too low a price which meant that big institutional shareholders including I think George Osborne’s best man, made a total killing and the taxpayer got ripped off. Let’s make sure the taxpayer does not get ripped off again.

DM: But you’re not matching this offering, that there would be a discounted sale to the public?

ED BALLS: Look, I will look at the details of this and if the best way to make sure that small savers get a fair deal is to have a discount, that’s something I’m really happy to look at but I’m not going to do it by discounting the price at sale which ends up with a big rise in prices afterwards which means that the killing doesn’t go to the taxpayer and the national debt but it goes to big institutional investors. I hope David Cameron and George Osborne now admit they got the Royal Mail sale badly wrong and I promise you this, I will not short change the taxpayer on Lloyds and RBS.

DM: All right, we want more specifics from you, assuming you are going to be Chancellor if Labour win, more specifics. You are going to have an emergency budget, you’ve told us that, pretty soon after you get into power and in that budget you would instantly put up that high rate of tax to 50p. Would you also bring in the Mansion Tax in that same budget?

ED BALLS: Yes. We will have …

DM: You’d bring it right in then?

ED BALLS: We will have a budget this year, we’ve not set a timetable for that but I think we’d want to move more quickly, as quickly as we can because we want to scrap the bedroom tax in our first budget, we want to bring in the bank bonus tax to get young people back to work, we want to cut business rates for small companies and increase child care. We’ll put the top rate of income tax back up to 50% for people earning over £150,000 and I said to the Treasury, I want them to be ready so that we can move in the first budget to legislate for and introduce the Mansion Tax on properties over £2 million.

DM: What about valuations?

ED BALLS: Well the thing which we will look at straight after the election is what timetable we can do and I will get the expert advice from HMRC and from the Treasury but I believe that we will be able to introduce this on the basis of valuations in this financial year, that’s my commitment, that’s my aim and that’s what I want to do.

DM: Okay and we know no movement on a wide variety of taxes, on VAT, national insurance and basic rates of tax, what about corporation tax, you haven’t ruled out putting that up have you?

ED BALLS: Well what we’re not going to do is the next cut.

DM: No, but would you put it up?

ED BALLS: When we were in government we reduced the rate from 33 to 28, the Tories have come down from 28 to 21, we’ve supported those cuts. We’re not going to do the next cut from 21 down to 20, instead we’re going to use that money to cut business rates, to cut and freeze business rates for 1.5 million small business properties.

DM: But you have been explicit, haven’t you, about things like VAT and basic rate tax, are you going to be explicit about corporation tax, that it will stay at 21% or could it go higher?

ED BALLS: I’ve made a commitment which is that we will keep the corporation tax rate, the main one, at the lowest level of any of the big G7 countries …

DM: And there is the wriggle room because we know that Canada, the next lowest, is on 26.5%, so you could put it up to 24 or 25 pence.

ED BALLS: But as I’ve said, I’ve supported the cuts from 28 down to 21 and my plan is not to do the next one and to do that for small business rates. Now the thing which we need in this recovery, look, at the moment our business investment performance is weak, our exporting performance is weak, businesses are really worried about Europe. We need to make sure that we back businesses and start investing for the future, the last thing that I want to do is start deterring that investment by hiking up corporation tax so therefore that is not something that I have made any commitment to do at all, we will keep our rates low.

DM: Okay and one other specific on that first budget, HS2, you would commit to that?

ED BALLS: Well at the moment there is a piece of legislation for HS2 first phase which I think has probably got another 18 months still to go in parliament. The second phase of HS2 is not even yet on the drawing board in terms of legislation. We have supported HS2, we need to make sure though that the costs are under control, there is no blank cheque from me and we will make sure in the second phase that we actually get a route which really serves our economy in the best possible way. George Osborne has said don’t do the east/west links until after you’ve done HS2, now I don’t want to delay the second phase but I don’t see why we should wait to link up Newcastle, Hull, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester for 20 years, that is ridiculous. I want to do that more quickly and on HS2 I think George Osborne has not been doing his job, he should get a grip on the costs. He is supposed to be the Chancellor, it is going to take me to come in to bang the table and say get a grip on the cost of this project.

DM: Well Nicola Sturgeon, of course we know the SNP, she says she is going to have a role in writing a Labour budget if they are supporting you in some way. Is it an absolute firewall between what you and Ed Miliband write in the budget and any SNP involvement? If they say this is too austere, we’re not supporting these cuts in this budget you’d just say go away?

ED BALLS: Absolutely 100% total firewall. As Ed Miliband said a couple of weeks ago, which in a way answers your question from three minutes ago, the first budget will be written by Ed Miliband and me and not by Nicola Sturgeon or Nigel Farage or anyone else. That’s what we are going to do, we’ve got a clear programme, we’ll cut the deficit every year and look, we’ve been very clear. It’s interesting today isn’t it, we’ve got Ed Miliband and me being asked questions about the SNP, we’ve got David Cameron being asked questions about UKIP. I can say to you unambiguously, no coalition with the SNP at all. David Cameron this morning is asked time and again, will he rule out a coalition with UKIP and he can’t answer the question because we know what’s really going on in …

DM: What about a vote by vote deal with the SNP or coalition with the Lib Dems?

ED BALLS: Look, the last thing we’re going to do … well first of all we are fighting for a majority and to start getting into speculation about what’s going to happen with the Lib Dems or whatever …

DM: You just absolutely ruled out a coalition with the SNP, would you absolutely rule out a coalition with the Lib Dems?

ED BALLS: Look, we’re fighting for a majority and we’re not going …

DM: Well you’re not.

ED BALLS: Of course we’re fighting for a majority.

DM: No, you’re not ruling out a coalition with the Lib Dems.

ED BALLS: No, look, what I’m saying to you is you have to deal with what the electorate gives you and therefore if the electorate has a hung parliament with Labour or the Conservatives not the largest party, we have to find a way in which we govern the country but you also have got to have some principles within that and our principle is very clear. The SNP exists, unlike the Liberal Democrats or to be fair UKIP, the SNP exist as a political party to break up the United Kingdom, that’s their raison d’etre, that’s what they’re for.

DM: And destroy the Labour party in Scotland.

ED BALLS: Well I don’t think they exist to do that, they exist to break up the United Kingdom. I can say to you unambiguously we’re not going to start getting involved in coalitions or deals with a political party which wants to break up the United Kingdom. David Cameron though, is he really going to say the same thing? I think the desperation here, Cameron is obviously now so desperate, it’s not gone to plan, he’s not leading in the polls, he’s flailing out in all directions. Why is he so energetically going on about the SNP? Because one, he worries he is going to fail and secondly, what he actually thinks is he is going to end up with a coalition after the election with UKIP and actually possible, Dermot, with the SNP. David Cameron would love to do a deal with the SNP, that’s what I’ve been saying.

DM: Really? Okay, well I’ll explore that with the Culture Secretary …

ED BALLS: You should but the fact is Dermot …

DM: Last question for you, we are running out of time …

ED BALLS: The SNP want the Tories in and the Tories want the SNP to do well, they’re in bed together.

DM: Okay, on the NHS, we’ve been hearing from Andy Burnham, your Health Spokesman, the Shadow Health Secretary, saying that somehow you have come up with the idea that the Conservatives have got secret plans, you’ve seen them, to cut 2000 nurses from the NHS.

ED BALLS: Well these are from the NHS’s own workforce plans which Andy has researched and has revealed today. The head of the NHS was saying least week that we’re in an immediate crisis now, the Tories are saying more money in four years’ time, they can’t say where it’s going to come from. David Cameron tried to say it was in his figures, that is untrue. There is nothing in the Tory plans at all, they have got billions of pounds of commitments which they can’t say how they’ll pay for – we’ve been very clear, £2.5 billion a year for the National Health Service – because in the next two years or three years, on the current plans, 2000 fewer nurses than now. Now if you want to have fewer nurses, the NHS going backwards and take a gamble on David Cameron who wants to privatise the NHS, fine. I think that would be to betray our National Health Service and we’ve got a better plan, a rescue plan right now for the NHS.

DM: Mr Balls, thank you very much indeed. Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls there.

Posted April 20th, 2015 by Ed's team