BOOK REVIEW - ED BALLS : SPEAKING OUT

By and large, I find politicians a rather scurrilous bunch. Too often, they're blessed with egos the size of a planet and once elected, they seem to be driven by ambition which will end to personal benefit, rather than political or public benefit. Occasionally, there's an exception to this sweeping generalisation and Ed Balls is an individual who seems to stand head and shoulders above many. The world of Westminster is the poorer without him.

This book is a delight. It feels as though it's written from the heart, with no agenda to poke fun at colleagues or gloat over others misfortune. He comes across as a genuinely decent guy, not one from a privileged background, but with family, personal and political values that are at the heart of everything he does. I love his passion for Norwich FC, I enjoyed his insight into fiscal planning, banking and the Exchange Rate Mechanism. His intellect shines through, but he's also a guy with a sense of humour, compassion and empathy. He struggled to overcome difficulties with public speaking and he's open and honest about his feelings.

He's generous in his assessment and account of some events in recent years, not least his own recent defeat. It was unexpected and clearly hurt, but the measure of the man is that he's moving on and whilst I'm not a fan of dancing shows, I can understand how he was drawn into taking part in this ludicrous public show! Why not? It's another of life's adventures and it won't be his last.

The book is divided into chapters which follow various themes, making it both entertaining and interesting. His written style is easy going, and he tackles some complex matters in a way that's easy to follow. Some great insights behind the scenes and a darn good read. One of the best 'political' memoirs.