The man who advises Gordon Brown on tax and economic policy is set to give an insight into the chancellor's thinking in a speech to Leeds Business School this afternoon. Ed Balls - credited as being the biggest single influence on Brown's thinking - will be speaking just weeks before the chancellor unveils his draft 'green budget'. Balls, a former journalist, is reputed to be the author of the then shadow chancellor's infamous speech on the 'non-endogenous growth theory' which attracted widespread ridicule as gobbledygook. But he is credited with ensuring that when the new team entered the Treasury they arrived in a blaze of action, including giving the Bank of England monetary policy committee control over interest rates. As chief economic adviser to Brown, Balls is the man who recommends Treasury tax and spending policies. He is one half of Labour's 'golden couple', with his 30-year-old wife, Yvette Cooper, promoted into the government as its youngest member when she became public health minister in the reshuffle last week. Like his wife, he's an Oxford graduate but while she is the granddaughter of a miner educated at a comprehensive school, he attended the fee-paying Nottingham High School. They met when he was working for Brown in the same small room as Cooper in Labour's headquarters in 1994. At the time she was an adviser to Harriet Harman. Balls counts football as his chief hobby but has given up playing for Labour's Saturday morning soccer team 'Demon Eyes' to act as consort to and public supporter of his wife in her Yorkshire constituency. The 32-year-old Balls has been the subject of persistent rumours that he is seeking a seat near his wife's. But few doubt, whether his eventual seat is in Yorkshire or elsewhere, that he will be a parliamentary high flyer under the patronage of his current boss. It would then be a close run thing as to whether he or his wife ends up as the most influential figure.
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