Local election results – transcript of BBC interview with David Dimbleby

David Dimbleby: How do you feel about these results that have come in?

Ed Balls: They are good results but they show that we have got more to do, to be honest David. We’ve won councils across the south, the eastern region, Birmingham, done brilliantly in Wales. We’ve taken lots of gains. Congratulations to those new councillors. But there is more to do because there are still people who voted Conservative and Liberal Democrat at the last election who chose this time to stay at home and we need to get that turnout up in the next few years as we build to the general election. What is clear, though, is there’s people who were told two years ago by David Cameron and George Osborne ‘we’ve got a plan on the economy and it will be fair’, and people are now saying the plan has failed, the economy is back in recession, unemployment high. And fairness? That Budget was so unfair three or four weeks ago. I think for the Conservatives this is really quite a big day because I don’t think this is mid-term blues. But for Labour it shows us there is still a challenge there, we’ve got to keep working hard.

DD: You have to convince people not just the Tories have got it wrong but that you have got it right?

EB: That’s right and the fact is, after that [general] election result, after the global recession, people wanted to give the government the benefit of the doubt. And as, month-by-month, the economy’s flatlined, back in a double-dip recession, people are saying well the government has failed and they are unfair and out of touch. We’ve got to win their trust, we’ve not just got the right values, the right leader in Ed Miliband, but also that we can make the tough decisions on spending, get the economy moving, get the jobs and growth without which we can’t get the borrowing under control. So there is a task still for us but it is definitely made easier by what is I think quite a seismic failure over the last month or two from David Cameron and George Osborne and I can see why Conservative MPs are worried about that now.

DD: Would you, as a socialist, endorse and support and look to the possible victory of Hollande in the French elections as something that you will be able to point to if he wins for what Labour would do in Britain? In other words, there is a template for people to have a look at and decide whether it works better?

EB: Well look, there is already a template in America where they have taken a more balanced approach on the economy, where President Obama had a jobs plan and that’s led to recovery and falling unemployment and them getting their deficit down faster than Britain. That is the route that Francois Hollande wants to take. I think at least as significant was that even the President of the European Central Bank last week was saying we need a plan for growth and jobs. He’s right. And what do we hear from David Cameron today? I’m going to plough on with my same plan. His plan is not working. George Osborne has got this wrong. It’s unfair and it is failing. And I think the debate will change over the course of this year in Britain and around the world. People will say austerity when it is extreme becomes self-defeating, crushes our economies, is unfair, but also bad for jobs, growth and the deficit. I do think it has been hard for us in the last two years, but as the coalition fails on the economy there is a big opportunity for us to say we can clear up George Osborne’s economic mess but do it in a fairer way and a better way for the future.

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Posted May 4th, 2012 by Ed