14 January 2012

A gentleman who is for turning: snakes or ladders weekend for Ed Balls?

Thanks to a speech to the Fabian Society (above) and endless interviews by Ed Balls (e.g. below), this weekend has been alive with the sound of turning in the mainstream media, blogs and on Twitter.

Under a headline 'This is new all right. it just isn't enough', John Rentoul of the Independent on Sunday tells us 'Ed Balls caught up with where the Labour Party should have been 16 month ago. It was an important moment...' (more HERE).

The New Statesman is rather less optimistic, with an article by Owen Jones telling us 'Ed Balls' surrender is a political disaster' (more HERE).

And, perhaps not surprisingly, the unions aren't too pleased by what looks like rather sudden U turn from Mr Balls - see Unions criticise Ed Balls's pay freeze comments on the BBC website HERE.

Snake, ladder or both?
For me, I find myself wondering how the speech and interviews by Mr Balls fit in (or not) with the snakes and ladders theory of political communication, which proposes that interviews work like snakes for politicians (by attracting negative news coverage) and speeches work like ladders (by attracting positive news coverage) - for more on which HERE.

But here we have an example of a politician staying consistently 'on message' - and a highly controversial one at that - both in a speech and related interviews.

There's no doubt that a message has got across (though to how many over a weekend?) and, given how little of the speech was actually to be seen or heard on broadcast news programmes, this probably had more to do with the interviews than his Fabian Society lecture.

However, whether it's had (or will have) a positive or negative otcome for Mr Balls and the Labour Party, only time will tell.

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