Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Straw 'Threatened to Punch Rude Ed Balls'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Straw 'Threatened to Punch Rude Ed Balls'

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

Extraordinary new claims that Labour is riven by bitter infighting inhigh command

Peeress 'insulted Labour's leader of the Lords with comment about white people'

LABOUR was hit by extraordinary new claims of infighting today, including onethat Jack Straw threatened to punch fellow Cabinet minister Ed Balls.

They had a furious row after the Justice Secretary accused Mr Balls of musclingin on his territory, it was reported.

The accountdenied by the pairis among a stream of damaging allegations of bitter arguments and rivalries inGordon Brown's high command that have surfaced at Westminster.

Another claim is that Baroness Scotland, the black peeress and AttorneyGeneral, insulted the white Leader of the Lords, Baroness Ashton, by telling anAsian man within her hearing: "These white people don't really understand whatwe have to go though." Other allegations are that rival ministers arepositioning themselves for a possible leadership contest after the election andthat the newly appointed general secretary of the Labour Party,

City whizzkid David Pitt-Watson, has delayed his arrival for months and mayback out altogether.

Although there were firm denials from official sources, the overwhelmingimpression was that the strain is taking a toll on Labour after six months oftrailing in the polls and with elections looming in London and the town halls.

The Balls-Straw bust-up was said to have happened after a Cabinet meeting"during a row about who was responsible for youth crime".

"The Justice Secretary came back to his department fuming that he had neverbeen spoken to so rudely by a colleague in public and he was not going to putup with it," the columnist Rachel Sylvester wrote in today's Daily Telegraph.

Separately, ministers have told the Standard they suspect Mr Balls, theChildren, Schools and Families Secretary, of jockeying for the leadership inrecent speeches, including last week when he attacked faith schools and othersfor breaking rules on pupil admissions. …

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