Monday, January 24, 2011

Ed vs. Ed

What does psychological type theory tell us about the future evolution in the relationship between Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party and Ed Balls, his new Shadow Chancellor?

Ed Miliband is an interesting case: he's most likely INFJ although he might score a low E. An INFJ is driven by a strong set of personal values, gives and respects loyalty and comes across as empathic and warm (extraverted F). This orientation to the human, emotional side comes at the expense of analytic skills and an interest in the logic of policies.

Ed Balls is the very picture of an ENTJ. Extraverted, intellectual and judgemental with an underdeveloped extraverted feeling (F) function (his weakest function - see here). Ed is superlative at mapping out a grand strategy and marshalling forces to accomplish it - but without much regard for casualties along the way, collateral or otherwise.

As a male-female partnershipo ENTJ and INFJ could work although there would be plenty of arguing (too many Js). As a male-male subordinate-boss relationship the dynamics are unstable.

Ed can only operate through a strategy which makes sense to him. If people get in the way of its execution he will simply work to eliminate them. This requires him to "tame" Miliband and bind him to the strategy. At that point, for Balls, Miliband has a function - which is to go play nursemaid to the wounded egos left in the wake of Mr Balls' operations, while being a publicist/frontman for the touchy-feely media.

INFJs are hopeless at strategy and focus instead on harmony which is why Miliband's trades union sponsors elected him in the first place, to 'harmonise' with their particular interests and to be a public lobbyist for them. However, Ed Balls' "no cuts" strategy is even more closely aligned with the special interests of Labour's core constituencies (especially the public sector unions who pay the bills) so if Ed Miliband is looking for help in that direction he can forget it.

In this fascinating opera to come, Ed Balls is like an evil spirit who for his very existence has to take over and possess the soul of young Ed Miliband, making him his puppet. It will be fascinating and horrible to watch.

If David Miliband had become leader, he would have found Ed Balls an equally difficult character. David Miliband has the same personality type as Tony Blair (ENTP), while Ed Balls is an extraverted version of Gordon Brown (who is INTJ). So you would have had a reprise of the Blair-Brown poisonous relationship but with added public venom.