A British lawmaker with a stammering problem says that his speech impediment has caused him to lose political favor and that he’s suffered greatly — both personally and in his career — because the twitterings and criticisms of fellow parliamentarians.
But leading lawmakers in the Conservative Party say Labour lawmaker Ed Balls is only trying to drum up sympathy and dodging his history of bad politics by accusing others of mocking his speech.
Either way, Mr. Balls, a member of Parliament who is the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, said his legislative downfall began when he stumbled during an important speech at last year’s Autumn Statement in the Commons, The Telegraph reported. The speech was aimed at countering Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s statement.
Since, “[I’ve had] loads of bad experiences,” he said. “I found out afterwards that people thought it was about a lack of confidence.”
But he said his stammer is not a reflection on intelligence or leadership ability.
“I just had something that happens to me quite often,” he said, as The Telegraph reported. “I had a block where you can’t get your words out and you hesitate and I got through it and kept going, but it was bumpy for that minute or two.”
He continued in The Telegraph article: “I think, because it was live on TV, some people saw that and what was really upsetting to me was for people to say I wasn’t confident or I wasn’t doing my job. It was just I’ve got a bit of a stammer and sometimes it comes out.”
Mr. Osborne, meanwhile, said Conservatives weren’t questioning Mr. Balls‘ leadership abilities because of his stammer, but rather because of his political and economic views.
“I would say the reason why the House of Commons doesn’t take Ed Balls very seriously is not — it’s got nothing to do with the fact he’s got a stammer,” he said in The Telegraph report. “It’s because he was the chief economic adviser when it all went wrong, and he never acknowledges that. He never admits that he was there at the scene of the crime, so obviously when we listen to his answers about what should happen next, we’re a bit skeptical.”