The Blog of Funny Names

Ed Balls had a tough childhood. Not because he was poor, or weak, or had lots of little red pimples on his face all the time or anything. No, none of those things are true. What is true is that his last name is Balls. Knowing kids, we can imagine them having been absolutely merciless to him. Add to that his admission that he suffered from a bad stammer as a child and his formative years must have been torture.

Mr. Balls admitted as much in an interview with British “newspaper” The Daily Mirror, saying ” I was teased and bullied right through my school years about my name…That’s why my kids took my wife’s surname Cooper. I’d never dream of calling them Balls.”

A wise decision. Strangely, I dream of calling my children Balls all the time.

So who is this Ed Balls I speak of? Like many of…

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Cell Phone Solution

Picture Credit – Sodahead.com

After a very busy day, a commuter settled down in her seat and closed her eyes as the train departed Montreal for Hudson .

As the train rolled out of the station, the guy sitting next to her pulled out his cell phone and started talking in a loud voice: “Hi sweetheart it’s Eric, I’m on the train – yes, I know it’s the six thirty and not the four thirty but I had a long meeting – no, honey, not with that floozie from the accounts office, with the boss. No sweetheart, you’re the only one in my life – yes, I’m sure, cross my heart” etc., etc.

Fifteen minutes later at St. Anne de Bellevue he was still talking loudly , when the young woman sitting next to him, who was obviously angered by his continuous diatribe, yelled at the top of her voice: “Hey, Eric, turn that stupid phone off and come back to bed!”

My guess would be that Eric doesn’t use his cell phone in public any longer.

Right Between the Eyes

First the Democratic Party produced a television ad purporting to show Rep. Paul Ryan throwing grandma off the cliff, by opposing ObamaCare.

But now a couple ofSan Antonio doctors have responded with an effective ad to counter this injustice.

See the ad produced by Drs. Jane Hughes and Kris Held.

Eurogeddon Awaits

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Another day of Eurogeddon awaits. Nick Clegg is giving a speech, warning that Grexit could be disastrous for the UK. Follow the day’s events on our live blog here.

He’ll echo the PM’s call for “decisive” action, saying that the European response to the crisis has been “woefully fragmented”, before adding that Britain must stop treating the euro crisis as a problem that affects only the members of the single currency. He is expected to say:

“We have created different classes of country: strong and weak, spenders and savers, eurozone and non-eurozone. But these divisions are false. It is piecemeal politics; endless tactics with no strategy. This is a European crisis. It must be solved at the European level.”

Dave’s backbenchers won’t like that. Much like they didn’t like Nick’s comment yesterday that “no rational person” would want the euro to break up.

The atmosphere is really heating up though. Yesterday, Germany’s central bank called for a suspension of financial support to Athens. For more details read our report.

ADAM SMITH

All this and closer to home, Dave has other problems. Adam Smith and Frederic Michel appear before the Leveson Inquiry today. Jeremy Hunt must be nervous.

CROSSING CABLE

And then there are Business Questions at 10.30am – another chance for Cameron’s Right wing to enjoy the fall out from the Beecroft Report. (Yesterday, Dr Cable attacked Beecroft again for his review of “one man’s anecdotes”.)

Poor Vince Cable. At least Peter Oborne thinks he’s great . In his column today, he says:

“[Mr Cable] is a formidable Cabinet minister, an important ally of enterprise, and, above all, one of the most loyal and supportive members of this Government… The core point to understand is that the Business Secretary did not block Beecroft. Indeed, he accepted almost all of his recommendations. On only one issue, Mr Beecroft’s now notorious proposal for “no fault dismissal” – the disastrous consequences of which were unwisely described by the private equity mogul as a ‘price worth paying’ – did Mr Cable object.”

An ally of enterprise? I can think of people who definitely won’t agree with that. The Business Secretary is actually in today’s FT trying to be just that though – as they report, yesterday, Dr Cable published his enterprise bill.

TORY TROUBLES

Again, I doubt many of Mr Cameron’s Right wing will agree. But then they’re not happy about much at the moment. Dave has thrown them a bone though: senior party sources are saying that he’s going to give them a free vote on gay marriage.

Gerald Howarth, a defence minister, is delighted, saying that it’s “absolutely right and proper.” For more details read our report.

A4E CATASTROPHE

We’ve splashed on the A4E scandal. Eddie Hutchinson, the former chief auditor of the company, submitted written evidence to Parliament yesterday showing that the company had an unethical culture, which led to systemic fraud.

In his evidence, Mr Hutchinson says: “I encountered unethical behaviour or wrongdoing that fell way below standards that should be expected of organisations funded by significant sums from the public purse,” outlining systems that encouraged “unethical” behaviour and alleges that the fraud was not confined to one area. We’ve published the document here.

DWP are saying that they have since changed the way they run their welfare to work programmes. Our leader column argues:

“The risk of fraud has been substantially reduced by new procedures…. But whatever the safeguards now in place, the taxpayer should be given as much information as possible to judge whether these schemes offer value for money.”

POLL WATCH

Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 32%, Labour 42%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 9%

Overall government approval rating: -36

TWEETS AND TWITS

Zac Goldsmith ‏rushes to defend the PM after he lost his temper at yesterday’s PMQs:

“@ZacGoldsmith: Thing is, if the camera focussed on Balls for the full 30 mins of PMQs, people would be amazed by the PM’s restraint. Genuinely bizarre.”

TOP COMMENT

In The Telegraph

Peter Oborne: Leave Business Secretary Vince Cable alone – he’s the moral centre of this Coalition

Sue Cameron: Another daft plan to ‘reinvent government’

Leader: A right to know

Leader: There is no excuse for economic timidity

Best of the rest

Camilla Cavendish in the Times (£): To help good workers you must fire bad ones

Zoe Williams in the Guardian: What’s the point of social mobility? It still leaves some in the gutter

Martin Jacomb in the Financial Times (£): We must break up the failing euro

Steve Richards in the Independent: Call it Plan A, B or C, just give us some growth

THE AGENDA

Today: Parliament rises for recess

Today: Prime Minister to attend meeting of the dementia champions group

Today: Transport minister Norman Baker is to announce the remaining allocations of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund

Today: Iain Duncan Smith is to make an announcement regarding Universal Credit

9.30am: Sir Jeremy Heywood gives evidence to the Commons Public Administration Committee. Committee Room 15, House of Commons

9.30am: Second estimate of first quarter GDP is published by the Office for National Statistics.

10am: Adam Smith, Frederic Michel and Lord Brooke to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand

10am: A judge gives his decision in a damages action brought by MP Chris Huhne’s partner Carina Trimingham

10.30am: Business Questions

4.15pm: Boris Johnson supports a Met Police project to steer youngsters away from crime and anti-social behaviour by teaching them martial arts. Nuffield Health and Wellbeing Centre, Wimbledon

10.35pm: Question Time fromKing’s Lynn. David Willetts, John Prescott,Caroline Lucas, Minette Marrin and Griff Rhys Jones will appear on the panel

Leave Business Secretary Vince Cable alone – he’s the moral centre of this Coalition

Many Conservatives regarded Vince Cable as the least congenial member of the Coalition government right from the start. A former Labour councillor in Glasgow and special adviser to John Smith when he was trade secretary in the Jim Callaghan administration of the late 1970s, Mr Cable has often seemed mulish and uncooperative.

His body language has spoken volumes. The notorious Cable scowl has occasionally cast a dark cloud over Prime Minister’s Questions. In a government of chums he is not a chum. Part of the problem is age. The four members of the so-called “Quad” who run the Coalition and get on so well – Cameron, Clegg, Osborne, Alexander – are all in their early to mid 40s. Mr Cable was president of the Cambridge Union in 1965, before any of them was born.

Some of the briefing against Mr Cable has been merciless. One Conservative minister told me that “he just doesn’t like or understand business,” accusing him of failing to listen to Britain’s largest companies. Others accuse him of blocking pro-business reforms. This insidious line of attack finally came out into the open yesterday when The Daily Telegraph carried an interview with the Tory donor and private equity boss Adrian Beecroft.

Read more….

Welfare to work ‘fraud scandal’.

Written evidence submitted to Parliament by a former chief auditor at A4e shows how an “unethical culture” led to “systemic fraud” at the company, which holds major government contracts. When concerns were raised about wrongdoing with senior managers, little was done to address the widespread abuse of taxpayers’ money, the whistleblower alleged.

A document put to MPs also described serious problems at another welfare to work provider, Working Links, which runs three major contracts on the Coalition’s £5 billion jobs scheme and is part-owned by the Government.

The evidence was submitted by Eddie Hutchinson, the former head of audit at A4e, who attended a meeting of the Commons public accounts committee on Tuesday from which the public was excluded.

The Daily Telegraph has seen a copy of the documents submitted.

Mr Hutchinson made the allegations a week after the Government said it had seen no evidence of fraud in contracts held by A4e.

Read more….