Balls has faced demands for his sacking
Balls has faced demands for his sacking (Reuters)

Ask any voter which current shadow minister most reminds them why they stopped voting Labour and one name routinely tops the poll, Ed Balls. So now is the time to sack him.

The common view is he screwed up the economy, was Gordon Brown's bully boy and actively encouraged poisonous spin doctor and team-mate Damian McBride's attempts to assassinate his enemies.

Some of it may be true and some of it myth but it doesn't matter. Enough of it is true to ensure that with his every appearance on TV or conference platform he revives memories of the blackest days of the last Labour government and undermines Ed Miliband's claim it has all changed.

There were regular calls for him to be removed from his job long before McBride published his memoirs. They have been given fresh impetus by the graphic picture McBride painted of the back-stabbing, Mafia-style operation he ran as Brown's chief lieutenant.

And every time Balls insists he knew nothing about these antics, you can hear a collective gasp of disbelief from politicians and political journalists alike.

So, when Miliband finally gets around to his reshuffle, Balls will be out.

Well, actually, no. There is virtually no chance that Miliband will remove Balls, he seems safe in his job until the general election. But why?

Largely it is for two reasons. First, because he probably wouldn't accept any other job, which he would see as demotion and humiliation, and that would leave him on the backbenches where he could make any amount of trouble.

And second, who would be the replacement? Those who want former Chancellor Alistair Darling back are whistling in the wind. Another old timer is not what Miliband wants.

So would Yvette Cooper, Balls' wife fit the bill, or Rachel Reeves or Chuka Umunna. Probably, except they might not fancy it, fearing they might only be in the job until the next election when, in the event of a hung parliament with Labour the biggest party, the job would have to go to LibDem Vince Cable. At that point neither Miliband or Balls or anybody else would have any choice in the matter.

Lastly, Balls had a purpose when the recovery was stalled and his "Plan B" looked attractive but even that has now gone.

So, while there is a powerful case for sacking him, we are likely to be seeing plenty of Ed Balls between now and polling day.