Tory blogger Iain Dale and Schools Secretary Ed Balls faced off over tax and spending policies at the Fabians' Question Time session.
Dale said he disagreed with George Osborne's plan to ringfence the health service and international development. "I think that's not the right thing to do. No one in this room would say there isn't an ounce of waste in the NHS."
He added: "I don't rule out tax rises...but there has got to be a balance."
And later Balls said he ruled out means testing child benefit, while Dale refused to be drawn.
A passionate debate raged with argument ping ponging between Dale and Balls.
Balls said: "I do think we need to make the tax and spending central (to the general election campaign)." We are resisting calls from the Conservative Party to cut spending now and this year. We are increasing spending precisely to get through the downturn."
Fabian general secretary Sunder Katwala argued that Labour had to stop the focus on the Conservatives. "I think we do risk talking too much about the Conservatives. Even if it is true that Conservatives haven't changed, that's not Labour's main message.
Let's do something else that's like the minimum wage ...it's got to be a different vision, a different set of values. We believe something quite different from the Conservatives and that needs to come across."
UPDATE: Iain Dale's blog post reflecting on the fringe - fun with the Fabians.