Speaking Out: Lessons in Life and Politics
Being present at your own funeral isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
A life in and out of politics - from the despatch box to the stage on Strictly - by one of Britain's most influential and well-loved political figures.
On the night of 7 May 2015, Ed Balls thought there was a chance he would wake up the next morning as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. Instead, he woke up without a job.
Twenty-one years earlier he had left a promising career in journalism to work for Labour in opposition. Moving through the ranks, from adviser to Cabinet minister and on to Shadow Chancellor, he occupied a central and influential position in and out of power during a pivotal period in British history.
Speaking Out is a record of a life in politics, but also much more. It is about how power can be used for good, and the lessons to be learned when things go wrong. It is about the mechanics of Westminster, and of government. It is about facing up to your fears and misgivings, and tackling your limitations - on stages public and private. It is about the mistakes made, change delivered and personalities encountered over the course of two decades at the frontline of British politics. It is a unique window into a rarely seen world.
Most importantly, it sets out what politics is about, and why it matters.
"An easy-going, sharp-eyed guide to the world of politics: its madnesses, its triumphs, its disappointments. A book which is insightful, funny and, at key moments, unexpectedly moving."
"Witty, reflective and engaging Ed Balls peels back the politicians' thick skin (and smashes their protective shell) to reveal that underneath lie real-life human beings."
"If you want to know why people go into politics and, despite all the ups and downs, do everything to stay there, I’d recommend Ed Balls' honest and revealing autobiography."
"Speaking Out is an enjoyable read... the essays stand alone as little gems of insight and reflection. The book illuminates someone who makes generous and nuanced judgements of foes as well as friends and tries hard to understand the motives of people who have crossed him. Passionate and telling... Balls is very clear that his defeat in his constituency in 2015 was a prelude to a funeral and a life outside politics. I suspect that the funeral was a prelude to a resurrection. This book will help him rise from the dead."
Vince Cable, New Statesman
"Intriguing... compelling and affecting... has the poignant ring of truth."
Rafael Behr, Guardian
"In a year rich in political memoirs, Speaking Out by Ed Balls is my pick of the bunch, full of anecdote, insight and authenticity’"
Matthew d’Ancona, Evening Standard, BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"Self-deprecating . . . often poignant."
Sunday Times Culture Magazine, BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"An engaging, highly readable and on occasion moving portrayal of life in the Westminster madhouse."
The i, BEST POLITICAL BOOK OF THE YEAR
"[U]nusually expansive on the emotional aspects of politicians’ relationship with the voters, it feels somehow timely."
Guardian, BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"A Christmas cracker of a book"
Tablet, BOOKS OF THE YEAR