Photo by MATT DUNHAM/AFP via Getty Images

The word “frenemy” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2008. It feels a bit retro now, reminiscent of a time when blurring the line between friendship and rivalry was considered modern and edgy. I only mention this because self-proclaimed “enemies” Ed Balls and George Osborne probably felt modern and edgy in 2008 too. Balls was business secretary in the Treasury under Gordon Brown and later became Ed Miliband’s shadow chancellor; Osborne was close to being handed the keys to No 11 and was widely tipped as a future Conservative prime minister.

A decade and a half later, they have a podcast. It says Political currencyand it follows the amazingly successful format of The rest is politics, where Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell and former Tory heavyweight Rory Stewart “pleasantly disagree” about politics in front of millions of eager listeners. To differentiate themselves, Osborne and Balls focus specifically on economics (“currency,” get it?). Apparently “they have the knowledge and experience to explain how good policy follows economics.” A look at the end of her career – when Balls lost his seat in 2015 and Osborne’s rise was cut short by the 2016 EU referendum – suggests this is up for debate.

So here we have another Centrist Dad podcast where polite, sensible men show how polite and sensible everything could be if people would just listen to them. Political boundaries are crossed and all parties ultimately meet in the middle of the street. Osborne is happy to reclaim the term: In an article titled “How I Learned to Love Ed Balls,” he writes that “Centrist Dad” “apparently is meant as an insult.” I’m not sure why. Do we want the world to be run by extremist bachelors?” This is coming from the right-wing former chancellor who ripped the state to the bone over “austerity” and who we blame for Britain’s crumbling schools, destitute local councils and the ailing public services can thank.

Balls has more entitlement to the economic middle, but his rehabilitation as one of Westminster’s “grown-up” politicians – a cuddly, parental figure who dances badly but enthusiastically and cooks for the children – requires more than a dash of revisionism. When he was at the forefront of politics, Balls had a reputation as a gangster that rivaled that of Dominic Raab. “You were a thug, buddy,” Osborne reminds him in the trailer. “I think it was a mistake,” admits Balls, before quickly reminding listeners that he climbed Kilimanjaro with Little Mix and was named best home cook by Mary Berry.

[See also: The Rest is Football should be sent off]

Select and enter your email address

The Saturday reading

Your weekly guide to the best writing about ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday – from the New Statesman.

Morning call

The New Statesman’s quick and essential guide to the day’s news and politics.

Events and offers

Stay up to date on NS events, subscription offers and updates.

Your email address

Job title

  • Administrative office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board member
  • Business/Corporate Services
  • Customer/customer service
  • communication
  • Construction, working, engineering
  • Education, curriculum and teaching
  • Environment, nature conservation and NRM
  • Facility/site management and maintenance
  • Financial management
  • Health – medical and nursing management
  • HR, training and organizational development
  • Information and communicationtechnology
  • Information services, statistics, records, archives
  • Infrastructure management – ​​transport, utilities
  • Lawyers and practitioners
  • Librarians and library management
  • management
  • marketing
  • Occupational safety, risk management
  • Operational management
  • Planning, politics, strategy
  • Printing, design, publishing, web
  • Projects, programs and consultants
  • Real estate, asset and fleet management
  • Public relations and media
  • Purchasing and procurement
  • Quality management
  • Scientific and technical research and development
  • Security and law enforcement
  • Service delivery
  • sport and freetime
  • Travel, accommodation, tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community/Social Services

Job Title: Administration/Office, Board Member for Arts and Culture, Business/Corporate Services, Customer/Customer Services, Communications, Construction, Labor, Engineering, Training, Curriculum and Instruction, Environment, Conservation and NRM, Facilities/Sites Management and Maintenance, Financial Management , Healthcare Management, Medical and Nursing Management, Human Resources, Training and Organizational Development, Information and Communications Technology, Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives, Infrastructure Management – Transportation, Utilities, Legal Officers and Practitioners, Librarians and Library Management, Management, Marketing, Occupational Health and Safety, Risk Management , Operations Management, Planning, Policy, Strategy, Printing, Design, Publishing, Web Projects, Programs and Consultants Real Estate, Asset and Fleet Management Public Relations and Media Purchasing and Procurement Quality Management Science and Technology Research and Development Security and Law Enforcement Service Delivery Sports and Leisure Travel, Accommodation, Tourism Wellbeing, Community/Social Services Log in

So what profound political insights do they have for us? “I think China has become a bigger problem in the last 25 years,” says Balls, as the two discuss China’s espionage history and share anecdotes about how careful (or not) they have had to be about unfriendly eavesdroppers on government trips to move to Beijing. Osborne’s solution to the generational row over state pensions and the unaffordability of the triple lock is a cross-party report. As for the topic the hosts say “everyone missed” (there will be one every week), they fall back on global oil prices. Basically it’s rising thanks to Russia, and that’s a problem for the British economy. “They are subject to major global forces, the decisions of other countries,” Osborne explains. “It’s just a reminder that the real world can come and intervene, no matter what the government’s plan is, which is that we’re going to go into the election with inflation falling and the economy growing.” So governments don’t have that complete control over the economic situation? Who knew.

There is hardly a gap in the market for another podcast in which politicians address the top issues of the day. If you’re listening to this, it’s not because you’re longing for insights into Westminster that you can’t find The rest is politicsor The intelligence agentsor For the manyor The performance test, or the New Statesman podcast Come to it. And yet, through some of the advertising, Balls and Osborne can each make a small fortune from this venture. (No one knows exactly what Campbell and Stewart are getting paid for The rest is politicsbut Stewart called it “championship footballer money.”)

Content from our partners

Of course, the term “Centrist Dad” really applies to anyone who looks back wistfully on the time before 2016: opponents of Brexit and equally appalled by Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. By being united, the amount that Balls and Osborne can actually disagree about is limited. They try, of course (Balls points out Osborne’s two-child benefit cap, which Osborne then reminds him is current Labor policy), and while there is the odd entertaining moment, there isn’t exactly one a lot of excitement. You can almost hear the angry producer shouting “Come on!” in the background. More arguments!” in vain.

Political currency is a howl of nostalgia for a bygone era: two men whose political careers ended dramatically earlier than expected (both were in their 40s when they left Parliament) and who are now looking for relevance, wherever it may come from, in the backseat . They’ve barely faded into the wallpaper – Balls is a presenter on Good morning Britain, while Osborne has had too many jobs to mention, most recently as chairman of the British Museum. Switching to podcasts must have been a natural transition. I think it’s nice to have a hobby.

[See also: The Immortals takes a sceptical look at “longevity research”]

Source :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *