UK Politics

Ed Balls pledge to 'carry on shouting' after 'turkey' taunt

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Media captionThe prime minister suggests a new hand gesture for the shadow chancellor, saying "it should be bye bye"

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has insisted he is "good at his job" after being described as a "turkey" by David Cameron in the House of Commons.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron suggested Mr Balls' future was on the line amid reported mutterings about his performance and strategy.

But Mr Balls told the BBC that a prospective chancellor "needed to be tough and to stand up to people".

"That's my job. I'm good at it and I will keep doing it," he told BBC East.

The prime minister has regularly questioned Mr Balls' future, while newspapers have talked of tensions between him and Ed Miliband.

The shadow chancellor has sought to laugh off criticism, saying he and the Labour leader get on well and telling one interviewer recently that he did not "give a toss" about how he was portrayed in the media.

'Carry on shouting'

Mr Balls became the centre of attention again at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday when he made the latest in a series of gestures with his hands while the leaders were debating the latest unemployment figures and the state of the economy.

In the past, he has made a flat movement with his hand to indicate a lack of growth.

On this occasion, he appeared to point downwards while David Cameron was answering a question - in an apparent reference to Labour's argument that living standards are continuing to fall under this government despite the stronger-than-expected economic growth.

In response, the prime minister said he would have thought "after today's briefing in the papers the hand gesture for the shadow chancellor should be 'bye bye'."

He told Mr Miliband: "You don't need it to be Christmas to know when you're sitting next to a turkey."

But Mr Balls, who had to shout to make himself heard during the Autumn Statement debate, said he would not "retreat" or "give up" in the face of what he said was "aggressive" Conservative barracking in the Commons.

"When you have got noise of that volume, you have to shout to be heard," he said.

"I am going to carry on shouting on behalf of working people across the country. It is my job, I am good at it and David Cameron and George Osborne really don't like it."

But one Labour commentator suggested Mr Balls should "tie his hands behind his back" in future during Prime Minister's Questions.

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