21st September 2007 at 01:00
NO SURPRISE that Ed Balls (below) opted to address a teachers' union meeting on tackling child poverty in Brighton last week. The options offered by other teachers' unions at the TUC conference were the rather more contentious subjects of social class and the future for public services under Gordon Brown. Ending child poverty, by comparison, must have seemed like a stroll in the park for the Children, Schools and Families Secretary.

So what needs to be done, Mr Balls? Well, he suggests we need a campaign to end child poverty. Send postcards to your MP, he advises. Oh, and wave placards outside the Treasury and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Wait a second. If we still need a campaign to persuade the Government to tackle child poverty, doesn't that rather suggest that Labour hasn't made much progress on its campaign promises?

Au contraire, Mr Balls insists. Since 1997, it has delivered the fastest fall in child poverty of any European country, he says. It is just that there is still rather a lot of catching up to do.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers certainly knew which politician it wanted to sweeten up. As Mr Balls made his escape, a union official handed him not one, not two, but three bags of chocolate coins emblazoned with "End Child Poverty".

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