Sunday 21 September 2008

Ed Balls: era of light touch regulation is over

Ed Balls was quite clear on the need for social democratic regulation of markets.

Asked whether the week's events had seen a "paradigm shift" he said.

For those people who think that the global market can be run without regulation, or with self regulation, or with light touch regulation have been entirely routed; have been entirely disproved.

This was certainly intended as an attack on George Osborne and the Conservatives who, according to Balls, "to nudge markets rather to regulate them: there is a fundamentally different view between the parties".

But doesn't this remain an issue within government too? Remember Business Secretary John Hutton saying (in a Fabian speech no less, though one which The Guardian felt would raise eyebrows, as indeed it did) that we had come to the end of the road of the era of regulation.

And Balls was also perfectly clear that he was very far from 'intensely relaxed" about those who got filthy rich: "I don't want to live in a society that has a growing gap between rich and poor" ... and that "we need a fair tax system and fair rewards", though, unlike Jon Cruddas, he refused to talk tax rates, being unable to do so without treading on Treasury toes.

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