Ed Balls: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 Ed Balls 

Assumed office 
28 June 2007
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Alan Johnson (Education and Skills)

In office
6 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Ivan Lewis
Succeeded by Kitty Ussher

Member of Parliament
for Normanton
Assumed office 
5 May 2005
Preceded by Bill O'Brien
Majority 10,002 (26.7%)

Born 25 February 1967 (1967-02-25) (age 43)
Norwich, England
Political party Labour Co-operative
Spouse(s) Yvette Cooper
Children Ellie, Joe and Maddy
Residence Castleford, England
Alma mater Keble College, Oxford
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Website www.EdBalls.co.uk

Edward "Ed" Michael Balls (born 25 February 1967) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Normanton since the 2005 general election. Despite only being elected at the beginning of the current Parliament, he has been an advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown since 1994, and as such is regarded as one of Brown's key lieutenants. When Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007, he was promoted to the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.


Early life

Balls was born in Norwich, Norfolk and educated at Bawburgh Primary School in Norwich, Crossdale Drive Primary School in Keyworth, Notts and then the private boys Nottingham High School. He studied PPE at Keble College, Oxford where he obtained a First-Class Honours degree, and later attended Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar.[1]

Balls joined the Labour party aged 16.[2] Whilst at Oxford he was a member of both the Labour Club and the Conservative Association.[3] The Independent suggests he joined to attend the talks by political speakers organized by the Conservative Association.[3]


His career began as economic leader writer at the Financial Times (1990–94) before his appointment as an economic adviser to the then shadow chancellor Gordon Brown (1994–97).

As Labour swept to power in the General Election of 1997 he continued as an economic adviser to Brown, who was then Chancellor. He then served as chief economic adviser to HM Treasury from 1999 to 2004, in which post he was once named the 'most powerful unelected person in Britain'.[4]

In July 2004 he was selected to stand as Labour and Co-operative candidate for the parliamentary seat of Normanton in West Yorkshire, a Labour stronghold whose MP, Bill O'Brien, was retiring. He stepped down as chief economic adviser to the Treasury, but was given a position at the Smith Institute, a political think tank . He was reportedly paid £100,000 for less than a year's work. HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office confirmed that "the normal and proper procedures were followed."[5]

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. The constituency is scheduled to disappear before the next election under the latest changes proposed by the Boundary Commission. Balls ran a campaign, in connection with the local newspaper the Wakefield Express,[6] 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 challenge against the Boundary Commission's proposals.

In March 2007 he was selected to be the Labour Party candidate for the new Morley and Outwood constituency, which contains part of the abolished Normanton constituency and part of Colin Challen's current Morley and Rothwell constituency.[7]

Ministerial career

Balls became Economic Secretary to the Treasury, a junior ministerial position in HM Treasury, in the government reshuffle of May 2006. When Gordon Brown became prime minister on 29 June 2007, Balls was promoted to Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

In October 2008, Balls announced that the government had decided to scrap SATs tests for 14-year-olds,[8] a move which was broadly welcomed by teachers, parent groups and opposition MPs.[9][10] However, the decision to continue with SATs tests for 11-year-olds was described by Head teachers' leader Mick Brookes as a missed opportunity.[11]

Political activities

Balls has played a prominent role in the Fabian Society, the think tank and political society founded in 1884 which helped to found the Labour Party in 1900. In 1992 he authored a Fabian pamphlet advocating Bank of England independence, a policy that was swiftly enacted when Gordon Brown became Chancellor in 1997.[12]

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[13] and opened the Society's Next Decade lecture series in November 2006,[14] arguing for closer European cooperation on the environment.

Balls has been a central figure in New Labour's economic reform agenda. But he and Gordon Brown have differed from the 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".[15]

"When I was at college, the economic system in eastern Europe was crumbling. We didn't have to ask the question of whether we should adopt a globally integrated, market-based model. For me, it is now a question of what values you have. Socialism, as represented by the Labour Party, the Fabian Society, the Co-operative movement, is a tradition I can be proud of", Balls told the New Statesman.[15]

Allegations over allowances

In September 2007, with his wife Yvette Cooper, he was accused of "breaking the spirit of Commons rules" by using MPs' allowances to help pay for a £655,000 home in north London.[16] It was alleged that they bought a four-bed house in Stoke Newington, north London, 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. This is despite both spouses working in London full-time and their children attending local London schools. Through a spokesman, Balls and Cooper countered the allegation by saying "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."

Children, Schools and Families Bill

Balls sponsored the Children, Schools and Families Bill which had its first reading on November 19th 2009.[17] 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.[18]

Personal life

He married Yvette Cooper MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in Eastbourne on 10 January 1998. Cooper is Member of Parliament for Normanton's neighbouring constituency of Pontefract and Castleford. They have three children.[19]

His father Michael Balls is a former academic and European civil servant, an expert in alternatives to the use of animals in experiments and chairman of the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME).


  1. ^ Who's Who entry.
  2. ^ Drury, Ian (5 November 2008). "Number of career politicians in Cabinet is 'deeply unhealthy', says minister Hazel Blears". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1083221/Number-career-politicians-Cabinet-deeply-unhealthy-says-minister-Hazel-Blears.html. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Revealed: How Ed Balls was a Tory under Thatcher, Guy Adamns, The Independent, 5 July 2006
  4. ^ The Guardian - The Guardian profile: Ed Balls
  5. ^ The Daily Telegraph - Call for inquiry over Balls's think tank
  6. ^ http://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/
  7. ^ Hansard - House of Commons - 23 Apr 2007. col.754
  8. ^ Curtis, Polly (14 October 2008). "Sats for 14-year-olds are scrapped". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News & Media). http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/oct/14/sats-scrapped. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  9. ^ Garner, Richard (15 October 2008). "National tests for 14-year-olds are scrapped after marking chaos". The Independent (Independent News & Media). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/national-tests-for-14yearolds-are-scrapped-after-marking-chaos-961393.html. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  10. ^ Milland, Gabriel (15 October 2008). "U-turn As Balls Axes Sats Test". Daily Express (Northern and Shell Media Publications). http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/66243. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  11. ^ "Tests scrapped for 14-year-olds". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 14 October 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7669254.stm. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  12. ^ "Ed Balls Schools Secretary". The Fabian Society. http://fabians.org.uk/executive-committee-mainmenu-64/executive-committee/ed-balls. Retrieved December 27th, 2009. 
  13. ^ The Fabian Society - Narrowing the Gap: The final report of the Fabian Commission on Life Chances and Child Poverty
  14. ^ Fabian Society - Ed Balls 'Next Decade' lecture: Britain's Next Decade
  15. ^ a b New Statesman - Interview: Ed Balls
  16. ^ The Daily Telegraph - Ed Balls claims £27,000 subsidy for 2nd home
  17. ^ Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009-10
  18. ^ Home educators in record petition of MPs BBC News 9 December 2009
  19. ^ The Daily Telegraph - Health minister celebrates birth

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bill O'Brien
Member of Parliament for Normanton
Political offices
Preceded by
Ivan Lewis
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Kitty Ussher
Preceded by
Alan Johnson
as Secretary of State for Education and Skills
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

Simple English

Ed Balls

Edward Michael 'Ed' Balls (born February 25, 1967 in Norwich, England) is a British politician and the shadow Home Secretary in Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet. He is the Labour Party and Co-operative Party Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Morley and Outwood in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

He was first elected in the 2005 general election and held the post of Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families from June 2007 to May 2010. He was a candidate to become leader of the Labour Party in September 2010 but lost to Ed Miliband.

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