Lovers of risqué puns could barely contain their delight today as the Ed Balls scandal continued to simmer. Guffaws were heard when Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, refused to be blamed for the fact that Balls had been thrust into the spotlight.
To compound the controversy, senior Whitehall sources suspect that the leak, which caused outrage in the Commons, can be traced back to Balls.
‘It certainly has a whiff of Balls about it,’ said one. ‘I think this came out now so it wouldn’t come out later. It would be catastrophic to have Balls exposed during a leadership challenge, although I’m sure many Tories would be delighted by just that.’
Tony Blair provided extra unintentional mirth when he spoke frankly about his period of handover. He told New Statesman ‘I couldn’t help but notice that Brown had Balls wrapped around his little finger.’
Supporters of the Shadow Chancellor accused his detractors of mud slinging, and complained that Balls had been smeared all over most of the morning’s tabloids – an unintentionally graphic image that provoked howls of laughter.
The man at the heart of the controversy seemed relaxed when we asked him for a comment. ‘I think it’s bollocks,’ he said simply.