Simon Carr: When candour is on the menu, it's time for Hannibal Lecter to eat himself

Sketch: He paces his short boundaries reminding the world of Hannibal Lecter

Related Topics

He prowls around his confined space, Ed Balls, projecting enormous unused capacity. Patient but implacable, he paces his short boundaries reminding the world of Hannibal Lecter – however he may lack the original's charm.

Generally speaking he has managed to close down interest in education. But yesterday we'd hoped at least for a bit of a colour story.

Last year had produced one of our annual fiascos when the Sats papers hadn't been marked. The chair of the quango, one Ken Boston, had resigned and Ed Balls publicly feasted on his brains. Mr Boston returned to the fray last week rejecting the smears and claiming ministers had taken very little interest in the fiasco at the time: "I was not asked to meet the minister, nor was I being pressed for answers by email," he testified.

So, we'd come in hope. The Tory Toy, Michael Gove, spoke very quickly and loudly asking a series of damning questions. Unfortunately, the answers were merely purgatorial. How many times had Balls actually met Boston in that crucial month? "Answer! Answer!" the backbenchers cried, malignantly. For some reason, Gove had elected to ask this of Balls's junior Jim Knight, and a most reassuring answer came back.

Gove was up again with another flurry of statements and accusations. "If he's not lying, who is?" he demanded. That is a question we rarely hear and I'm sure we paid attention to the answer.

Jim Knight said he had "a whole list of meetings between Balls and Boston", an extended calendar, he implied with dates, times, agendas, confessions. Ed was smiling and nodding and holding up three fingers most complacently.

Gove had used up his time. His passion spent, his evidence exhausted. Balls rose on a planted question to add detail. He shouldn't have done that. It seems there had been just one meeting. And one letter asking Boston to reassure a constituent that all was in hand. And a letter in reply from Mr Boston on 16 June. "Regularly pressed"? Halley's comet is regular too, but that doesn't mean it comes round three times a day.

But crucially, this wasn't apparent in the House. I blame Michael Gove. He just hasn't got the measure of his man. Balls was talking eponymously but we all walked out despondent that he was in the clear with his "whole list of meetings". Only on reading the transcript did Gove's point of view become persuasive. One meeting!

I don't think it's just the trappings of office that gives Balls the conviction, the solidity, the sheer psychotic ability to give these hallucinations weight.

Gordon has the same talent; he taught it to Balls of course.

One Lecter will have to eat the other in the end, with or without the fava beans. As Lenin said of politics: Who, whom?

React Now

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

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam