The 60-Second Version Of The Labour Party Plot To Axe Tony Blair

Ed Balls

Photo: AP

The Daily Telegraph have published damning excerpts from Ed Balls’s private correspondence.The letters show the role that the current shadow chancellor and others played in planning Tony Blair’s eventual downfall.

The files are online here.

The depth of the plot has long been suspected but no clear evidence has existed before.

Here’s what we know now:

  • Ed Balls and current Labour leader Ed Milliband began planning their coup in 2005, while the country was being rocked by terrorist attacks, and just months after Balls was elected.
  • They codenamed it “Project Volvo” and sought celebrity’s help, including J.K. Rowling.
  • Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, hated Blair’s love of spin, notably in the build up to the Iraq war, and sought to oust him. He considered him a “muddled” lightweight.
  • Brown sought Balls help to purge Blair’s influence on the party, taking a “brutal” approach.
  • Secret meetings were held, opinion polls taken out on Blair’s policies, and more.
  • Over 30 people were involved in the plot. Many of them were later given peerages and other important positions by Brown when he came to power.
  • Blair sent a letter to Brown seeking to iron out their differences. Brown passed the letter on to Balls, adding negative notes.

The files clearly illustrate the deep division that was rocking the party 10 years ago, and casts a shadow on the character of current top Labour leaders – notably Ed Milliband and Ed Balls.

Toby Young notes that the documents show that the two Ed’s were not only clear Brownites (despite their public statements at the time) but further, they were “hatchet men for Gordon Brown, willing to do their master’s bidding no matter how ill-advised or inappropriate.”

Others, like Guido Fawkes, point to the sheer duplicity Balls displayed. Balls still harbors hopes of being Prime Minister, and it seems likely this will be a deeply negative stain on his personality for voters, already a problem after his involvement in other scandals. His answers on the BBC’s This Week last night didn’t seem to help matters.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is who leaked the letters. George Eaton notes that Balls last saw the file on his desk before the 2010 elections. The question is then, who took them, and why did they choose to leak them now?

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