Stephanie Smith: Strictly can’t wait to see Balls in the ballroom

Gangnam Style: Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who could be waltzing his way on to Strictly Come Dancing.  John Stillwell/PA Wire
Gangnam Style: Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who could be waltzing his way on to Strictly Come Dancing. John Stillwell/PA Wire
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He became an unlikely pin-up following his appearance on the Great British Bake Off for Sport Relief. Now it seems Ed Balls has got a few more moves up his sleeve.

The former shadow chancellor, who lost his Morley and Outwood seat last year, is reportedly stretching out, warming up and pointing those twinkle-toes, ready to take part in the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing, joining a line-up believed to include Will Young, Lesley Joseph, Paul Burrell, Louise Redknapp and Laura Whitmore.

If true, this makes him the first male politician – and the first Labour one – to take part in the BBC Saturday night ballroom show, not counting Lib Dem Vince Cable, who appeared in a Christmas special. Edwina Currie and Ann Widdecombe have both already stepped out for Strictly, so it’s fair to say that the Conservatives have done their bit for the nation’s entertainment. It’s about time Labour shimmied up to the plate.

As I write, it is not yet known what Mr Balls’s spouse, Yvette Cooper, makes of this Strictly turn-up for the books, although she did apparently appear to rule out his taking part after the general election last year, when she suggested it might conflict with “filming in the jungle”, presumably a jokey reference to the prospect of Mr B going on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

The jungle hasn’t happened (yet), but Strictly is apparently a goer. One insider source said: “Ed has got some moves,” adding ominously, “He might do rather well.”

It’s all starting to make a lot of sense. Balls bopping to Gangnam Style at the 2014 Labour Party conference is already the stuff of legend. The man loves to dance.

He may well love the attention, too. Back in February, his Bake Off show-stopper ski jump cake, featuring a fondant Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, representing the underdog, prompted declarations of admiration, love and lust on Twitter.

When your confidence has taken a bashing, as Balls’s must have done following his all-too-memorable election defeat, then looking for applause and validation is understandable (yikes, the “Strictly curse” ... nah, not likely).

The fact that next month Balls publishes his memoirs – Speaking Out: Lessons in Life and Politics, billed as “brave and revelatory” – may well also have something to do with the Strictly move.

Whatever the motives, I for one hope it all works out brilliantly for Bouncing Balls. That said, there’s a video clip of his “moves” doing the rounds on Twitter. Let’s just say, he’d get a solid seven for dad dancing.

Sarah Champion MP

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