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10 January 2012 2:19 PM

Balls hits back over Tourette's jibe

Ed Balls has just been on the radio, making some comments that are raising a few eyebrows in Westminster.

The shadow chancellor, David Cameron's irritator-in-chief, was hitting back at David Cameron over the accusation he behaves like "someone with Tourette's" during PMQs. (The Prime Minister apologised after making the comments, sparked by his annoyance at Balls' endless hand gestures and frontbench barracking).

Condemning it as "offensive" - though insisting it hadn't hurt him - Balls painted himself as whiter-than-white in the political arena.

Balls said: “I think people want an opposition which takes the argument to the Government, and sometimes David Cameron gives the impression that he deserves to be there and nobody deserves to criticise his views and his policies.

“And he obviously attempts, whether it’s women who he patronises, or me who makes offensive comments about - which don’t offend me but did offend many people up and down the country suffering from Tourette’s - I don’t think that’s the right way to do politics.

“I think you should debate not about smear but about policy.”

Vowing to continue criticising the Government’s “failing” policies, he went on: “I will do that in a direct, clear, honest and open way, but I’m not going to say offensive things about David Cameron or anyone else.”

This from a man who has a reputation as a street fighter, both inside Labour and when taking on the opposition. He even appeared in a video game after Alistair Darling said the "forces of hell" had been unleashed against him.

It's worth noting he dismissed the idea his robust style turns voters off during the World and One interview, so don't expect him to change. PMQs would be duller if he did...

Craig Woodhouse
Follow me on Twitter @craigawoodhouse

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