The way Ed Balls's stutter was treated in the Commons points to a familiar compassion deficit

This behaviour shames the home of our democracy

Share
Related Topics

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls gave his thoughts on yesterday's Autumn Statement by George Osborne.

What was notable was that Ed Balls also referred to yet another example of how truly unedifying the Chamber can be at times, when he commented on the mocking, yelling and adolescent roaring of the Conservative benches to the halting start of his response.

Ed Balls, like millions of others in this country, lives with a speech impediment. In his case a stammer which has been widely documented and which can be debilitating and a fertile ground for those who like to indulge in mocking and abuse.

“Banter” I believe it is often trivialised, yet stress can be a mitigating factor in exacerbating a speech impediment. So to see the Conservatives' behaviour is at once unsurprising and depressing.

The Tories seem in recent years to have chosen to exploit disability and impairments to make political points.

The double act of Cameron and Osborne appears much less the family friendly Morecambe and Wise and much more Lord of the Flies when they use autism to jibe at Gordon Brown, and describe sitting opposite Ed Balls as akin to “sitting opposite someone with Tourettes Syndrome.”

What is the issue with disability as a justifiable insult for them? When are these men going to act like political leaders not  overgrown children and stop mocking the impairments of others and look to their own compassion deficit?

Politics can be a contact sport - and Ed Balls is often abrasive himself - but is it justifiable to mock and yell and roar with impunity?

I will leave the final words of this piece to the comment the Shadow Chancellor made this morning. The dignity both in delivery and content throws the nonsense of yesterday’s spectacle into very sharp relief.

“Everybody knows with me that I have a stammer and sometimes my stammer gets the better of me in the first minute or two when I speak, especially when I have the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and three hundred Conservative MP’s yelling at me at the top of their voices, but frankly that’s just who I am and I don’t mind that.”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot