Of late I have been lulled to sleep by the dulcet tones of Ed Balls whispering in my ear. Yes,“that” Ed Balls; side-kick of Gordon Brown, shadow chancellor of the exchequer and more recently, twinkle-toed dancer/pantomime figure and undoubted star of “Strictly Come Dancing”.
You too can, should you care, also partake of this guilty pleasure by downloading the Audible book: “Speaking Out: Lessons in Life and Politics” by Ed Balls and importantly, narrated by Ed Balls. Important because it adds authentiticity to the experience and provides a genuine insight into the thoughts of an interesting and intelligent man as well as a commentary on recent history. Just imagine how valuable it would be if we had similar first-hand accounts from figures such as Disraeli, Clement Attlee, and other major political personalities.
Yes, I know that there are often biographies and sometimes autobiographies, but these can never, by their very nature carry the same weight and authenticity as hearing the words spoken by the significant individual.
For many people their perception of Balls will have been gleaned from what they have been fed by the popular press as firstly, Gordon Brown’s enforcer, followed by his period as shadow chancellor where his lack of smoothness by comparison with of his oft-times tormentor, George Osborne, would often discount the value of what he had to say. Self confidence and presentation may be important attributes in public speakers but they do not guarantee either intelligence or sound judgement, and it is in these areas where Balls will have been seen to be the genuine article who also made, for the most part, the correct judgements at the time.
What is particularly illuminating about the “Ed Balls Story” is just what a personal and human hinterland the man possessed, as he still does. In fact it is often hard to see just how he could have crammed so much into what must have been a period of intense work-related pressure particularly under Gordon Brown.
I suspect though that it was precisely such pressure that provides the spur for his other “play” related activities: football, piano lessons, among much else. With people as with many other things. It is important to remind ourselves that it is wise not to form judgement based on outward impressions. Sometimes the packaging belies the contents.
I urge you to give “Ed Balls” a try. I think that, as I did, you will find him to be a more thoughtful, intelligent and interesting person than you previously thought, and while there is a sense throughout the book that Balls is of the settled view that “his time” has come and gone in politics, again like me, you may wonder whether we can as a country afford to neglect an authentic voice and the accumulated knowledge of a good man who transparently still has much to offer. After all we have had far too many smooth, well-educated, but foolish individuals frankly just learning on the job and making mistakes that prove costly to the country in our politics. “Come back twinkle-toes! “Your country needs you!”
Speaking Out: Lessons in Life and Politics