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Balls attacks family photoshoots

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has expressed distaste at politicians doing photoshoots with their children - the day after Ed Miliband was pictured at home with his family.

In an interview, Mr Balls said he would "never ever" allow such images to be used, no matter how "short term, tactical and tempting" it might be.

The Labour leader was seen on the front page of the Daily Mirror on Wednesday cuddling younger son Samuel, while wife Justine held two-year-old Daniel.

Further pictures inside showed the parents playing with their children in front of a Christmas tree. The highly personal portraits emerged with Mr Miliband under pressure over poor opinion polls and badly received showings in the Commons. David Cameron has previously taken part in similar photoshoots.

However, speaking to the Fabian Review, Mr Balls indicated he and wife Yvette Cooper - the shadow home secretary - would not involve their son and two daughters in such publicity.

"The most precious thing for me and us is definitely protecting our children so that they can be who they want to be," he said. It is not clear whether the interview was carried out before the Mirror article appeared.

Mr Balls dismissed suggestions that he wanted to unseat Mr Miliband, whom he lost to in last year's leadership contest. He insisted he backed the leader "100%" and warned against the party "turning in on itself", but added: "Who knows what will happen in life?"

Despite pledging to eschew family photoshoots, Mr Balls does give a glimpse into his home life. "We have a continual debate about whether the presents should arrive in pillow cases or socks," he said. "I think pillow cases. Yvette thinks socks. My argument is that, with socks, you get less in."

Asked whether he was limiting his children's gifts to reflect the country's economic hardship, he replied: "It all comes from Father Christmas."

An aide to Mr Balls said the interview had taken place on December 1. Mr Balls and Ms Cooper had taken a "consistent approach" to coverage of their family life, he added. The shadow chancellor was said to be setting out what he thought was right for his own family, rather than attacking the choices others made.

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