Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, visited Oxford last Thursday to speak at a meeting of the Oxford University Labour Club, and at Keble, his former college. The MP’s speech to OULC covered “internationalism, May 2015 and Ed Balls Day”.
Nikhil Venkatesh, the Co-chair of the Club, commented: “OULC was delighted to host the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, on Thursday. He spoke to us about a broad range of topics, emphasising the importance of students voting and campaigning in the next election.
“Members really enjoyed it and so did Ed – it’s great that we can give students the chance to discuss politics with important politicians, and it’s great that we can give politicians a chance to find out what students and grassroots members want.”
Part of Balls’ address to the Labour Club was focussed particularly on the run-up to next summer’s general election. This follows the OULC’s participation in last week’s #WeBackEd Twitter campaign; the Club also canvassed in Calcot, a suburb of Reading.
David Parton commented that “it was really great of Ed to come and take time out of his schedule to encourage OULC members to go out and help win Labour the next election”. Parton described Balls as “friendly, honest and personable”, and was pleased to see all spaces at the OULC event filled prior to the Shadow Chancellor’s arrival.
Having studied PPE at Keble from 1985–1988, Balls retains links with his former college, where he holds a position as Honorary Fellow.
Not all students were entirely enthusiastic about his speech at the College however, which also took place on Thursday. Esther Hodges, a current Keble PPE-ist, said: “College were (overly) keen that economics students attend Balls’ talk given his request that we do so. This despite the fact that I gave economics up over a year ago and was delighted to do so. However one mustn’t be churlish; Balls was engaging enough and it was good to see a Labour politician in action, even if I’d rather have seen his wife.”
After getting a first in PPE, Balls worked as economics advisor to Gordon Brown, starting in 1994. Some students were surprised to see him appearing at several well-known Oxford locations throughout the day.
Dan Enzer, a History and Economics student, tweeted that he had just seen Balls “walking down the Lamb and Flag passage, talking about the economy where many before have chundered”.