IT’S BEEN a funny old week in politics: Andy Coulson finally booted out, Blair hauled up in front of the Chilcott enquiry – now running so long that it can’t be much longer before the inquirers become too old for the job and get replaced en masse a la Skins – and the demise of Labour’s working class hero, Alan Johnson. Running or shadowing the Treasury is a huge job with ramifications right across all departments, which is why it tends to be reserved for big bruisers like Brown, Lawson and Osborne, and why Johnson – warm, genteel and statesmanlike– wasn’t quite up to the job. After he’s got the whole wife shagging the bodyguard thing sorted out, though, a brand new post-political career beckons. Decked out in a golf sweater and striding through a mock-up of suburbia, he’d be the perfect replacement for John Stalker as the venerable old git of choice to preach to the nation the wonders of automatically retracting conservatory blinds and self-opening garage doors, or he could be the new sweet old grandpa on the Werther’s Originals advert.
And so to Balls, the guy who probably should have got it the fi rst time round. Labour MPs are quite excited about the prospect of him at the forefront of the fi ght over the deficit and are keen to make up for lost time. Balls is a well-known bruiser who did a terrific job of ripping Gove into a thousand foppish shreds over school funding last summer and they can’t wait until he gets going on George Osborne. The party is like a teenager having had to play the whole way through Mortal Kombat with that puny woman who just chucked fans at her opponents, salivating at the prospect of unlocking the special character at the end who has fifteen arms, rips off the other guy’s head and shits down his neck if you get the button combination right.