Marie Le Conte, a journalist in London, was originally on board. The first anniversary was even funnier than the day of the original tweet, as it became clear it would have staying power and continue to be noted each year, she said.
At the time, Mr. Balls was seen as a political heavyweight bruiser, and the tweet did not square with his public image. People always love when a politician makes a technological mistake. “Also, to be blunt, his name is Balls,” she said.
But in her view, the joke lost steam after a few years, and she years ago muted the #EdBallsDay hashtag. (It never helps when brands get involved.)
“There was a big split between people that said: ‘OK, we’ve done that, it was quite funny, I mean, two or three anniversaries, whatever, we can move on now,’” Ms. Le Conte said. “And the people who are like: ‘No, we will never move on, for as long as we live we will celebrate Ed Balls Day.’”
Perhaps the closest analog in American politics was covfefe, an apparent typo tweeted mysteriously by President Donald Trump in 2017. It remains an occasional joke of the online left, but there’s no Covfefe Day.
Mr. Balls, who was the shadow chancellor of the Exchequer from 2011 to 2015, said he didn’t believe the tweet changed the trajectory of his career, but he has enjoyed a lighter public image since being voted out in 2015. He has been a contestant on the BBC shows “Strictly Come Dancing” and “Celebrity Best Home Cook,” winning the latter.
Playfully noting that he is right up there with Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and St. George in having days named after him — “to be fair, they made rather more substantive contributions” — he said he would be fine if this were the last year his day were celebrated. But if people continue to enjoy it, they can have at it, he said.