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Edward Michael Balls (born 25 February 1967) is a British economist, media personality and former politician who served as
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Parliamentary system is the member of the Shadow Cabinet who is responsible for shadowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The title is in the gift of the Leader of the Opposition but is infor ...
from 2011 to 2015. A member of the Labour Party and
Co-operative Party The Co-operative Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom supporting co-operative values and principles. Established in 1917, the Co-operative Party was founded by co-operative societies to campaign politically for the fairer ...
, he was
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this category includes specifically members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different ...
(MP) for Morley and Outwood, formerly Normanton, from
2005 2005 was designated as the International Year for Sport and Physical Education and the International Year of Microcredit. 2005 was also the end of the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995–2005). Events January * Jan ...
to
2015 2015 was designated as: * International Year of Light * International Year of Soil __TOC__ Events January * January 1 **The Eurasian Economic Union comes into effect, creating a political and economic union between Russia, Belarus, Armenia, ...
. Balls attended
Nottingham High School , motto_translation = Praise to the end , address = Waverley Mount , city = Nottingham , county = Nottinghamshire , postcode = NG7 4ED , country = England , coordinates = , type = Independent day school , established = , closed = , religious_affiliation ...
before studying
philosophy, politics and economics Philosophy, politics and economics, or politics, philosophy and economics (PPE), is an interdisciplinary undergraduate or postgraduate degree which combines study from three disciplines. The first institution to offer degrees in PPE was the Universi ...
at
Keble College, Oxford Keble College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its main buildings are on Parks Road, opposite the University Museum and the University Parks. The college is bordered to the north by Keble Road, to the ...
, and was later a
Kennedy Scholar portrait of President John F. Kennedy by Aaron Shikler. Kennedy Scholarships provide full funding for up to ten British post-graduate students to study at either Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Susan Hockfiel ...
in economics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United Sta ...
. He was a teaching fellow at Harvard from 1988 to 1990, when he joined the ''
Financial Times#REDIRECT Financial Times#REDIRECT Financial Times {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
'' as the lead economic writer. Balls had joined the Labour Party whilst attending Nottingham High School, and became an adviser to
Shadow Chancellor The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Parliamentary system is the member of the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (United Kingdom), Shadow Cabinet who is responsible for shadowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The title is in ...
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair government from 19 ...
in 1994, continuing in this role after Labour won the 1997 general election, and eventually becoming the Chief Economic Advisor to the
Treasury A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a finance ministry. *A place or location where treasure, such as currency or precious items are kept. These can be state or royal property, church valuables or in priv ...
. At the 2005 general election, Balls was elected as the MP for Normanton (which in 2010 became Morley and Outwood), and in 2006 became Economic Secretary to the Treasury. When Brown became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister in 2007 Labour Party leadership election (UK), 2007, Balls became Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, serving until the 2010 United Kingdom general election, 2010 general election; Labour were at that point defeated after thirteen years in government, and returned to Opposition. He was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Education under Harriet Harman and finished in third place at the 2010 Labour Party leadership election (UK), 2010 Labour leadership election, triggered by
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair government from 19 ...
's resignation as Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party, after which he was appointed as Ed Miliband's Shadow Home Secretary. He served in this role until 2011, when he was then appointed as
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Parliamentary system is the member of the Shadow Cabinet who is responsible for shadowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The title is in the gift of the Leader of the Opposition but is infor ...
, a role that he held until he was unseated at the 2015 United Kingdom general election, 2015 general election. Following his electoral defeat, he became a senior fellow at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United Sta ...
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, and a visiting professor to the Policy Institute at King's College London. He was appointed chairman of Norwich City F.C. in December 2015, a position he held until December 2018. Balls was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing (series 14), series 14 of the BBC's ''Strictly Come Dancing'', surviving until week 10, and in 2021 was the winner in BBC's ''Best Home Cook, Celebrity Best Home Cook''.


Early life

Balls' father is zoologist Michael Balls; his mother is Carolyn Janet Riseborough. His younger brother is Andrew Balls, the CIO for Global Fixed Income at the investment firm PIMCO. Balls was born in Norwich. When he was eight years old the family moved to Nottingham and he attended Crossdale Drive Primary School in Keyworth and the private all-boys
Nottingham High School , motto_translation = Praise to the end , address = Waverley Mount , city = Nottingham , county = Nottinghamshire , postcode = NG7 4ED , country = England , coordinates = , type = Independent day school , established = , closed = , religious_affiliation ...
, where he played the violin. Raised as a Anglicanism, Christian, he read Philosophy, politics and economics, Philosophy, Politics and Economics at
Keble College, Oxford Keble College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its main buildings are on Parks Road, opposite the University Museum and the University Parks. The college is bordered to the north by Keble Road, to the ...
, graduating with a First – according to John Rentoul in ''The Independent'' – ahead of David Cameron. Later he attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Harvard, where he was a
Kennedy Scholar portrait of President John F. Kennedy by Aaron Shikler. Kennedy Scholarships provide full funding for up to ten British post-graduate students to study at either Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Susan Hockfiel ...
specialising in Economics. Balls joined the Labour Party in 1983 while still at school. While at University of Oxford, Oxford University he was a partially active member of the Oxford University Labour Club, Labour Club, but also signed up to the Oxford University Liberal Democrats, Liberal Club as well as the Oxford University Conservative Association, Conservative Association, "because they used to book top-flight political speakers, and only members were allowed to attend their lectures" according to friends. Balls was a founding member of The Steamers, an all-male drinking club, and suffered embarrassment when a contemporary photo of him wearing Uniforms of the German Army (1935–1945), Nazi uniform appeared in the papers.


Early career

Between 1988 and 1990, Balls was a Teaching Fellow at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United Sta ...
. He joined the ''
Financial Times#REDIRECT Financial Times#REDIRECT Financial Times {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
'' in 1990 as a List of leader writers, lead economic writer until his appointment as an economic adviser to Shadow Chancellor
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair government from 19 ...
in 1994. When Labour regained power at the 1997 general election, Brown became Chancellor of the Exchequer, Chancellor and Balls continued to work as his economic adviser, eventually becoming Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury.


Political career

In July 2004, Balls was selected to stand as Labour and Co-operative Prospective parliamentary candidate, candidate for the electoral district, parliamentary seat of Normanton in West Yorkshire, a Labour stronghold whose Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), MP, Bill O'Brien (British politician), Bill O'Brien, was retiring. He stepped down as Chief Economic Adviser to HM Treasury, but was given a position at the Smith Institute, a political think tank. HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office was subsequently stated that "the normal and proper procedures were followed".


Member of Parliament

In the 2005 general election, he was elected MP for Normanton with a majority of 10,002 and 51.2% of the vote. After the Boundary commissions (United Kingdom), Boundary Commission proposed changes which would abolish his constituency, Balls ran a campaign, in connection with the local newspaper the ''Wakefield Express'', to save the seat and, together with the three other Wakefield MPs (his wife Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh and Jon Trickett), fought an unsuccessful High Court of Justice, High Court legal action against the Boundary Commission's proposals. In March 2007, he was selected to be the Labour Party Prospective parliamentary candidate, candidate for the new Morley and Outwood constituency, which contained parts of the abolished Normanton and Morley and Rothwell (UK Parliament constituency), Morley and Rothwell constituencies, and was elected for the new seat in 2010 United Kingdom general election, May 2010. On 5 February 2013, Balls voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain. Balls was a member of the Labour Friends of Israel.


Cabinet

Balls became Economic Secretary to the Treasury, a junior ministerial position at HM Treasury, in the Cabinet reshuffle of May 2006. While Economic Secretary, he was commissioned, alongside Jon Cunliffe, by the Group of Seven (G7), G7 finance ministers to prepare a report on economic aspects of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. When
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair government from 19 ...
became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister on 27 June 2007, Balls was promoted to Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. At the Department for Children, Schools and Families, Balls brought together schools and children's policy for the first time in the Children's Plan and raised the UK education and training leaving age to 18. In October 2008, Balls announced that the Government had decided to scrap National Curriculum assessment, SATs tests for 14-year-olds, a move which was broadly welcomed by teachers, parent groups and Official Opposition (United Kingdom), opposition MPs. The decision to continue with SATs tests for 11-year-olds was described by head teachers' leader Mick Brookes as a missed opportunity. In December 2008, following the case of the Death of Baby P, Balls intervened directly in the running of Haringey Social Services, ordering the immediate dismissal, without compensation, of Sharon Shoesmith the Director of Children's Services. David Cameron had also called for her dismissal. Prior to her dismissal, Shoesmith had been widely praised in her former role as Director of Education, though she was handicapped by having no social work background. An emergency OFSTED report ordered by Balls in November 2008 following the child abuse trial found that safeguarding arrangements were inadequate although Shoesmith's lawyers alleged that the final report had been altered. Shoesmith subsequently brought a Judicial review against Balls, Ofsted and Haringey Council and a series of appeals followed. The Conservative Opposition supported Balls' right to dismiss her "because ministers want to uphold the principle that they – and not the courts, through judicial review – should be responsible for their decisions". She received compensation as her sacking was deemed "procedurally unfair" and the Department for Children, Schools and Families was subsequently refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Supreme Court. In October 2013, it was reported that Shoesmith had agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Haringey Council; unconfirmed reports referred to a sum of 'up to £600,000'. Appeal Court judge Lord Neuberger had described Balls' dismissal of Shoesmith as 'unlawful', but in a statement issued on 29 October, Balls asserted that 'faced with the same situation [he] would do the same thing again.' Balls sponsored the Children, Schools and Families Bill which had its first reading on 19 November 2009. Part of the proposed legislation will see regulation of parents who home educate their children in England, introduced in response to the Badman Review, with annual inspections to determine quality of education and welfare of the child. Home educators across the UK petitioned their MPs to remove the proposed legislation. Several parts of the bill, including the proposed register for home educators, and compulsory sex education lessons, were abandoned as they had failed to gain cross party support prior to the pending May 2010 election.


2010 Labour leadership election

Following the resignation of
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair government from 19 ...
as both Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party, Balls announced on 19 May 2010 that he was standing in the 2010 Labour Party leadership election (UK), election to replace Brown. Balls was the third candidate to secure the minimum of 33 nominations from members of the Parliamentary Labour Party in order to enter the leadership race. The other contenders were former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, former Secretary of State for Health, Health Secretary Andy Burnham, backbencher Diane Abbott and former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, who was elected.


Shadow Cabinet

The new leader Ed Miliband appointed Balls Shadow Home Secretary on 8 October 2010, a job he held until 20 January 2011, when the resignation of Alan Johnson for "personal reasons" led Miliband to announce Balls as Labour's
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Parliamentary system is the member of the Shadow Cabinet who is responsible for shadowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The title is in the gift of the Leader of the Opposition but is infor ...
. As Shadow Chancellor, Balls regularly appeared with Miliband at joint press conferences relating to Labour policy. Together with Miliband, Balls promoted a "five-point plan for jobs and growth" as Shadow Chancellor. The plan was described as aimed at helping the UK economy, and would have involved reinstating the bonus tax to fund building more social homes, bringing forward long-term investment, cutting VAT to 17.5%, cutting VAT on home improvements to 5% for one year, and instigating a one-year national insurance break. Balls declared in January 2012 that he would continue with the public sector pay freeze which led to opposition from Len McCluskey. He had a bruising exchange in the House of Commons with George Osborne regarding the Libor rate scandal, where Osborne accused Balls of being involved in the scandal. Conservative MPs became unhappy after Bank of England deputy governor, Paul Tucker (banker), Paul Tucker denied encouragement to pressurise Barclays with Andrea Leadsom saying Osborne had made a mistake and should apologise.


2015 general election

In the 2015 United Kingdom general election, 2015 general election Balls lost his seat to the Conservative Party's Andrea Jenkyns by a margin of 0.9%. It was claimed that the Labour leader's office had known for two weeks that Balls was likely to lose. Larry Elliott of ''The Guardian'' described this as the Portillo moment of the election. On 11 May, it was reported that, on leaving the Commons, Balls would receive up to £88,000 in expenses for relocation and to close down his parliamentary office.


Ed Balls Day

On 28 April 2011, Balls, urged by an assistant to search Twitter for a recent article about him, accidentally entered his intended search term in the wrong box and sent a tweet reading only "Ed Balls". The tweet was retweeted by thousands; Balls was unaware that it was possible to delete tweets. The tweet has never been deleted. The incident is now celebrated as "Ed Balls Day" every 28 April, with followers retweeting his original message and commemorating the occasion in other ways. When invited to send something to be auctioned to raise funds for the party in 2015, Balls submitted a framed, signed printout of the tweet. To celebrate "Ed Balls Day" in 2016, Balls baked a cake featuring the tweet. Six years on from the original tweet, Ed Balls Day 2017 drew tweets from organisations including Virgin Atlantic and the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, National Trust – the latter in response to a tweet parodying Prime Minister Theresa May's criticism of the National Trust for omitting the word "Easter" from promotional material for Easter egg hunts.


Political activities

Balls has played a prominent role in the Fabian Society. In 1992, he wrote a Fabian pamphlet advocating Bank of England independence, a policy adopted when
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair government from 19 ...
became Chancellor in 1997. Balls was elected Vice-Chair of the Fabian Society for 2006 and Chair of the Fabian Society for 2007. As Vice-Chair of the Fabian Society, he launched the Fabian Life Chances Commission report in April 2006 and opened the Society's Next Decade lecture series in November 2006, arguing for closer European cooperation on the environment. Balls has been a central figure in New Labour's economic reform agenda. He and Gordon Brown have differed from the Blairism, Blairites in being keen to stress their roots in Labour Party intellectual traditions such as Fabianism and the co-operative movement, as well as their modernising credentials in policy and electoral terms. In a ''New Statesman'' interview in March 2006, Martin Bright writes that Balls "says the use of the term 'socialist' is less of a problem for his generation than it has been for older politicians like Blair and Brown, who remain bruised by the ideological warfare of the 1970s and 1980s". In the interview, Balls said:


Controversies


Allegations over allowances

In September 2007, with his wife Yvette Cooper, he was accused by Liberal Democrats (UK), Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker of "breaking the spirit of Commons rules" by using MPs' allowances to help pay for a £655,000 home in north London. Balls and Cooper bought a four-bedroom house in Stoke Newington, and registered this as their second home (rather than their home in Castleford, West Yorkshire) in order to qualify for up to £44,000 a year to subsidise a reported £438,000 mortgage under the Commons Additional Costs Allowance, of which they claimed £24,400. Both worked in London full-time and their children attended local London schools. Balls and Cooper claimed that "The whole family travel between their Yorkshire home and London each week when Parliament is sitting. As they are all in London during the week, their children have always attended the nearest school to their London house." Balls and Cooper "Flipping#Second home flipping, flipped" the designation of their second home three times within the space of two years. In June 2008 they were referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over allegations that they were claiming expenses for what was effectively their main home in London; their combined claim was £24,000 i.e. "slightly more" than the single MP allowance. The commissioner exonerated them, adding that their motives were not for profit as they paid full capital gains tax.


Traffic offences

Balls was fined in June 2013 for going through a red light in December 2012. He has also admitted speeding in April 2013 and using his mobile phone whilst driving during the 2010 general election campaign. On 5 August 2014, he was fined £900 and given five penalty points on his driving licence for failing to stop after a car accident. He said he knew that the cars had touched, but did not stop to check as he did not think any damage had been done.


Later career

After leaving politics, Balls was appointed Senior Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and also became Visiting scholar, Visiting Professor of King's College, London. He was appointed as the chairman of Norwich City F.C. in December 2015, the football club he supports. He stood down in December 2018. In 2016, he took part in ''The Great British Bake Off, The Great Sport Relief Bake Off'' and Strictly Come Dancing (series 14), series 14 of the BBC's ''Strictly Come Dancing''. He was partnered with Katya Jones, a Russian professional dancer. Writing about his performance in the sixth week Halloween special, Michael Hogan of ''The Daily Telegraph'' said "The dad-dancing politician got a standing ovation from the studio audience, chuckles from the judges and enough viewer votes to keep him out of yet another dance-off." He was eliminated in week 10. Balls' autobiographical memoir ''Speaking Out'' was published in August 2016. In the book, he said Labour's four-week 2015 United Kingdom general election, general election campaign in 2015 was "astonishingly dysfunctional" and "we weren't ready – and didn't deserve – to return to government". He also described Jeremy Corbyn's leadership project as a "leftist utopian fantasy, devoid of connection to the reality of people's lives". A three-part documentary, ''Travels in Trumpland with Ed Balls'', began broadcasting on BBC Two on 29 July 2018. It looks at supporters of President Trump and how things have changed. During one episode, Balls took part in a professional wrestling match in order to explore the correlation between Trump and the sport. Another three-part documentary, ''Travels in Euroland with Ed Balls'', began broadcasting on BBC Two on 23 January 2020. It explores the anti-elite sentiment in Europe, the rise of right-wing politics, and the effect austerity has had in European politics. In September 2017, Balls was placed at Number 74 in 'The 100 Most Influential People on the Left' by commentator Iain Dale. In November 2017, Balls was a contestant on the British TV show ''Would I Lie to You? (game show), Would I Lie to You?'', where he revealed that he once negotiated the Home Office Budget while crawling in a children's ball pit. In January and February 2021 Balls was the winner in BBC One's ''Best Home Cook, Celebrity Best Home Cook''.


Personal life

Balls married Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who later became Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Shadow Home Secretary, in Eastbourne on 10 January 1998. Cooper is
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this category includes specifically members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different ...
for Morley & Outwood's neighbouring constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (UK Parliament constituency), Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford. They have three children. In January 2008, they became the first married couple to serve together in Cabinet of the United Kingdom, HM Cabinet when Cooper became Chief Secretary to the Treasury, although Cooper had attended cabinet sessions as housing minister prior to then. In September 2010, the British Stammering Association announced that Balls had become a Patronage, patron of the association. Its Chief Executive, Norbert Lieckfeldt, paid tribute to him for having been very public in his declaration that he stammers. Balls was portrayed by Nicholas Burns (actor), Nicholas Burns in the 2015 Channel 4 television film Coalition (film), ''Coalition''.


See also

* Ed Balls document leak


References


External links

* * * * , - , - , - , - , - , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Balls, Ed Ed Balls, 1967 births Living people Alumni of Keble College, Oxford British special advisers Department for Children, Schools and Families English Anglicans Fellows of Keble College, Oxford Financial Times people John F. Kennedy School of Government alumni Labour Co-operative MPs for English constituencies Labour Friends of Israel British Secretaries of State for Education Chairs of the Fabian Society Norwich City F.C. non-playing staff People educated at Nottingham High School People from Norwich Spouses of British politicians UK MPs 2005–2010 UK MPs 2010–2015 British expatriates in the United States Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom