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News | Published October 04 2018

Ed Balls commends The Parliamentary Review for “bringing common sense to policy debates”

In a speech delivered to The Parliamentary Review gala this week, former shadow chancellor Ed Balls regaled best practice representatives with anecdotes from his time in politics and his newfound television fame. At the annual gala held in the Banking Hall, Balls deftly manoeuvred through the current state of politics and his time on Strictly Come Dancing before powerfully ending with a call for the return of consensus to politics.

Balls began by referring to himself and Osborne as a “double act” and he commended the Review on its own double act: the dual chairmen of Lord Eric Pickles and Lord David Blunkett. Balls opened by praising the impact of the Review, detailing its use within the creation of legislation during his time in Parliament. He outlined the publication as: “a magazine which I read when I was a minister and a member of Parliament. The contributions you make to policy debates in that review are hugely important. I think the bond between politics and business needs to be strengthened and not weakened in our country. At a time when our economy is more challenged than it has been for many years, but also our politics is in a very challenging period, I think the work the Review does, and you all do to bring common sense to our policy debates is really important.”

Key Facts
  • Balls calls for the return of consensus to politics
  • Praises the impact the Review has on policy formation
  • Sentiments on collaboration between public and private sectors echoed by Cornerstone, Maurice Bushell & Co and Grapeshot

Recounting anecdotes from his time in government, including the phone call from Tony Blair which awarded him his first role in the Treasury, Balls detailed the change he has undergone from MP to television personality. This was succinctly summarised by his two appearances at the Leeds Arena: the first time when losing his seat in the General Election and the second being crowned victorious in a Strictly Come Dancing tour event.

“If you decide politicians are this other group…people who are not be trusted, I think, in the end, as a society, you get the politicians you deserve.”

Balls struck a more serious note at the close of his speech, stressing the need for consensus in politics and engagement between politicians, businesses and the wider population. Exploring the danger of labelling politicians as “other”, Balls argued that: “If you decide politicians are this other group…people who are not be trusted, I think, in the end, as a society, you get the politicians you deserve.” Stressing the need for consensus, Balls declared that the country will only succeed if “we have a relationship in which government challenges business and business challenges governments, but where they work together to make our economy stronger.” Returning to the Review, Balls ended by stating that “I think, when I read The Parliamentary Review, those values shine through issue after issue.”

This call echoed the sentiment of Grapeshot, a contributor to the Review, whose CEO John Snyder was in attendance. In their article for the magazine, Snyder stressed the importance of collaboration between business and the government, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the Treasury and his company. Having received £250,000 of government subsidy, they have since been able to return that investment, describing the returns the Treasury have received as “incredible.” 

In our Accountancy and Financial Services edition, Stephen M. Foster of Maurice Bushell & Co forwarded a similar argument. Foster argued for the need for government to liaise more with SMEs, in order to understand the huge benefit they give to the economy: “SME entities are an essential ingredient in the UK economy in terms of employment, generating tax revenues and their general contribution to the UK economy.” He stressed that “government must support them.”

Similarly, David Hannah of Cornerstone Tax argued that public and private sector collaboration is essential to solve issues surrounding stamp duty. Hannah called for the fostering of “a culture between the public and private sector of paying the right amount of tax, not simply the maximum, or indeed the minimum. Like many others, I would welcome collaboration between private tax advisors like Cornerstone and HMRC.”

At a time when our economy is more challenged than it has been for many years, but also our politics is in a very challenging period, I think the work the Review does, and you all do to bring common sense to our policy debates is really important.”