Politician Ed Balls blames stammer for speech stumbles

Last updated at 19:14
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Politician Ed Balls said his stammer got the better of him

A major politician criticised for making stumbles during a big speech has said he was affected by his stammer.

Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, seemed unsure and confused when he was responding to the government's latest tax and spending plans - the Autumn Statement - on Wednesday.

Politicians on the government's side shouted and laughed at him.

But he's been defending himself, saying the hesitation was down to his stammer and he had nothing to be sorry about.

Mr Balls said: "Sometimes my stammer gets the better of me in the first minute or two, when I speak, especially when I have the Prime Minister and the Chancellor and 300 Conservative MPs yelling at me."

Debate in the House of Commons often gets very heated, with rival political parties jeering or booing each other when they disagree, and other MPs have said their comments had nothing to do with the way Mr Balls was speaking.


Stammering is a relatively common speech problem that can affect kids and stay with them into adulthood.

Sufferers can find it difficult to say words and often repeat sounds or say words for longer than they usual.

What do you think?

We want to hear your thoughts on the way that MPs behave in the House of Commons.

Is it okay to be able to jeer and laugh if you don't agree with someone? Perhaps you think you should listen to people no matter what you think about what they're saying? Or maybe it's better that everyone gets a chance to share their opinions - any way they can?

This chat page is now closed but you can read some of the comments that were sent in below.

Your comments

"I think all the people in the House of Commons are awfully rude, as you don't get your own way by jeering, and that had nothing to do with it. I think the rudeness was of politicians bullying other politicians."

Madeline, Pontypool, Wales

"I don't think it is right to laugh, everyone has their right to be listened and respected!"

Ananya, London, England

"I don't think that's fair at all, considering Mr Balls couldn't help it, that's pretty much as low a level as bullying."

Subhan, Worcester, England

"I think people should be able to express their opinion!"

Lizzy, Liverpool, England

"I think everyone should stay quiet, but at the end they can laugh or boo or jeer... It would stop people being nervous and would make the speeches sound better too."

Sophie, Liverpool, England

"I think people should express their feelings even if they have a stammer. I should know because I have a stammer (a severe one)."

Jessica, Staines, England

"No way is it acceptable for them to behave ungraciously."


"Laughing at someone's view is very childish and silly. As well as if they make a mistake. People are just expressing their view. Laughing at them can make the person feel hurt and sad."

Daniel, Newbury, England