Where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of Ed Balls


by Sunny Hundal    
8:50 am - January 5th 2012

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Maurice Glasman’s article yesterday caused some stir on Twitter and spurred Westminster hacks to say he was critical of Ed’s leadership.

But the interesting policy bit of the article was his coded attack on Ed Balls:

Endogenous growth, flexible labour-market reform, free movement of labour, the dominance of the City of London – it was all crap, and we need to say so. Stanley Baldwin had a far more robust industrial growth strategy than Brown and Mandelson could conceive of, let alone Cable and Osborne.

Glasman attacks the “Brownite political economy”, and by extension (as many see it) – Ed Balls. There is one bit to this that I agree with.

Before I get to that however, I need to make a distinction.

There is a short-term Labour economic strategy that revolves around the cuts to public spending and how to stimulate the economy. For that, Labour has a five-point-plan which is a useful if rather technocratic start (meaning, no one remembers the full five points).

Was Maurice Glasman attacking Ed Balls’ approach to cuts? I highly doubt it? His economic advisor is Liberal Conspiracy and TUC’s own Duncan Weldon – a firm Keynesian who has been saying since Osborne’s first budget that the cuts are hurting the economy.

So what is Maurice Glasman’s issue? I suspect it is this:

The publication of Sir John Vickers’ banking commission in September is therefore a major opportunity to redress this balance. This debate should not just be about “too big to fail”, or whether banks should be divided into savings and investment banks, however. It should also be about Britain’s lack of real growth, and the possibility of establishing new types of regional banks in response. These could be constrained to lend within county borders, providing a guaranteed source of regional capital to serve local businesses.

That is from a Financial Times article by Maurice Glasman and Duncan Weldon from August last year.

When the Vickers report came out however, Ed Balls and the Labour team meekly called for it to be implemented in full. The report was badly watered down and did absolutely nothing to fundamentally challenge the structure of banking in the UK; it preserved the status quo.

In effect Ed Balls’ approach to the City is now identical to that of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Let that sink in for a bit. For all the talk of rebalancing the economy and ensuring we don’t have a repeat of the 2008 crash – Labour hasn’t actually laid out any long term plans or ideas that go beyond the five point plan. They didn’t even use the Vickers report to push harder or point out it was badly watered down.

I’m extremely unhappy on that and agree with Maurice Glasman – the party talks of moving on but hasn’t come out with anything bold or forward looking. Criticism of Ed Balls on that point is entirely justified.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Labour party ,Westminster


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Reader comments


1. Dominic Newbould

Labour’s 5 Point Plan is deserving of more than damning with faint praise… Tax on bank bonuses, cut VAT, for starters.
How long will it take for UK to recover from this Government of the One Percent? Ed Balls at leat is focused on young, jobs, growth and long-term investment, rather than providing a launch pad to help the rich get even richer, faster and more securely.

Thanks Sunny, that’s much more considered than the sound and the fury about Glasman’s comments, and I hadn’t really appreciated that about Balls’ policy. One of the issues Lanchester makes in Whoops! is that by regulating the banks their value will reduce because they will be less profitable, although also more stable. This has knock-on consequences for any government, for any banks we own as it will reduce the windfall when they’re sold. Lanchester puts this to the tune of over a hundred billion. Personally, given the unabated risks of another crash, I think this is a price worth paying for stability.

3. Solomon Hughes

It kind of worries me, though, that while Glasman is trying to pressure Miliband from the left on banking and economics but is still keen to sprinkle it with loads of ugly “blue labour” , ‘patriotic’ and slightly barmy ideas: So he has a go at Balls for ” the dominance of the City of London” and “flexible labour-market reform” but also for “free movement of labour” – ie he still has that “blame the banks, blame the poles” attitude. And the way to call for being stronger than the Vickers report (which is a v good call to make) was to go for real separation of high st. and investment banking, rather than the useless ‘fire walls’. Glasman’s regional/patriotic county banks solution is another bit , I fear. of blue labour bonkersness. If the ‘left’ in the Byrne (blairite right) Balls (Brownite middle) triangle is Maurice Glasman, we’re in trouble, because at any moment he might either (a) thrust his foot into his mouth or (b) suddenly blame uppity women, migrant workers or lazy-bastards-on-the-dole , all of which are right wing poison.

@3 Isn’t (b) just (a) but with a little more detail?

5. Anon E Mouse

The problem is that the project from Labour is over.

The sneering middle class toffs like Polly Toynbee, the tax avoiding Guardian newspaper – all fired up by the BBC – allowed the Labour government to ruin this country with their silly socialist dream of benefits, ill advised wars and ID cards.

It’s over and the sooner the clowns that believe cranks like Ed Miliband represent anyone in this country the better.

Then decent Labour voters will return to support the party and once the hapless leader has been dumped (get rid of the unrepresentative countess toff Harriet Harman as well) we may have a possible alternative government.

The Labour Party is supposed to represent the working class in this country and not a bunch of university educated professional politicians who’ve never done a normal days work in their lives.

Let’s have a little less support for mass immigration into this country or the failed European project and a bit more representing the working man please.

Glasman and Wheldon aren’t alone in thinking regional banks might have the answer. Mensa magazine in July of last year were kind enough to print the following letter;
Dear Editor, Watching tv commentary in the run up to the election I was struck by the lack of discussion from any candidates or commentators about the ongoing lack of credit. By contrast, when two prominent businessmen were interviewed and asked what they wanted to see they replied immediately they wanted to see more credit made available from the banks. One went so far as to say he had two businesses in administration because of the lack of available credit. My feeling is that the supply of money to society is far too important to be left, as it is, to privately owned banks. It seems an alternative money source is necessary – what could it be? One possible solution presents itself from America where many states are having the same problems we are. There is one, though, which does things differently. North Dakota is an American state, apparently the only one, still running a budgetary surplus and hiring not firing. What’s the secret? It has a state-owned bank, one created by locals in 1916 to look after their own interests. State taxes and so forth form the basis of reserves and using fractional reserve banking (as banks do here) these can multiplied many times as loans. Low-interest credit is made available to the community with a view to serving that community rather than making naked profit, those profits that are made can be returned to the community which makes them as a dividend. North Dakota is doing so well compared to the rest of America that its example is being considered by the states of Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Washington, Minnesota, where bills are being prepared to set up local state banks along the same lines. Moreover, this same principle can and has been applied to entire countries. New Zealand for example has had the government-owned Kiwibank since 2002, operating along the same principles. They certainly seem to be doing rather better than some; The IMF (International Monetary Fund) had this to say about them as recently as March the 29th: “New Zealand has been able to ride out the global financial crisis better than many other advanced countries.” It seems such a good idea, why is there nothing similar here? Perhaps locally to me in Surrey we could create the Bank of Elmbridge, having the area’s council taxes as reserves. These could be multiplied many times as loans using fractional reserve banking and so could fund local business startups and expansion where and as needed. Perhaps Mensans should be asking their MPs why all political discussion in the UK is of cuts and austerity rather than the support of wealth creation as it is in other countries? Yours, Bill Kruse, SIGsec Economics Trade & Finance.

There seems to be a movement in the direction of alternative banking, not before time either. I think Balls is an irrelevance also, like Osborne a puppet of the City. It’s the lawlessness practiced uniquely in the City of London, a Wild West for financiers, a Hole-In-The-Wall for international financial criminals, that’s made much of the current woes possible. No credible plan for our financial future can allow the City to continue to exist as it does nor can the monopoly of money creation by the privately-owned banking system be allowed to continue.

7. Solomon Hughes

Oddly enough, Anon E Mouse, your position is actually quite close to Maurice Glasman’s. Or are you he ?

8. Anon E Mouse

@7 – Solomon Hughes

Hi Solomon – no I’m not that fellow.

Just a disgruntled (ex) Labour voter who despairs at the hopeless way the party is flatlining due to a total lack of realising what the public want.

How on earth the party can’t see the way things are I do not know….

9. Leon Wolfeson

Throw Glassman out the party he’s apparently mistakenly joined already.

He’s arguing for breaking up the Union and the One-Party Tory England as usual.

@5 – Yes, yes, you want to poison the party further, BNP boy, ensuring that the right are always in power. I get it. Xenophobic racism and isolationism is your screed, as usual.

Balls is the weakest link in the Shad Cab. I can never see voters taking him seriously.

11. Frances_coppola

The Vickers report was useless. It didn’t address the real issues at all.

The much-hyped “ring fence” will only apply to three banks, one of which (RBS) is shortly to have its investment banking division massively scaled down. That leaves two – HSBC, whose overseas RETAIL (not investment banking) operations dwarf its UK business, and Barclays, which is the only one that would be seriously impacted by a ringfence – or by full separation of retail & investment banking, for that matter. And the problems in retail banking that caused the failure of three UK banks and a building society remain within the ring fence.

Vickers failed to do anything significant about the lack of competition in UK banking. The UK’s largest bank, Lloyds HBOS, still dominates the mortgage market despite the forced sale of branches. Vickers should have recommended demerger of HBOS and should have identified measures to lower barriers to entry in high street banking.

And Vickers’ worst mistake was to rely on Basel to identify regulatory and supervisory reforms. It didn’t address this area AT ALL – but it is arguably banking regulation and supervision that failed most catastrophically. Yes, the proposed measures to improve capital and liquidity buffers will help, but they are no substitute for ensuring that banks manage risks properly.

I wrote about this at more length here: http://coppolacomment.blogspot.com/2011/12/icbs-fig-leaf.html

9( didn’t understand a word of that criticism of No.5, by pointing out that (5) feels taht laobu ris too OXbridg guardainist, is somehow saying that he wants laobur to be like the tories?

13. Anon E Mouse

@9 – Leon Wolfeson

Here we go again – your usual New Labour smearing raising it’s ugly head.

Which bit wasn’t true?

The problem is that the project from Labour is over.

The sneering middle class toffs like Polly Toynbee, the tax avoiding Guardian newspaper – all fired up by the BBC – allowed the Labour government to ruin this country with their silly socialist dream of benefits, ill advised wars and ID cards.

It’s over and the sooner the clowns that believe cranks like Ed Miliband represent anyone in this country the better.

Then decent Labour voters will return to support the party and once the hapless leader has been dumped (get rid of the unrepresentative countess toff Harriet Harman as well) we may have a possible alternative government.

The Labour Party is supposed to represent the working class in this country and not a bunch of university educated professional politicians who’ve never done a normal days work in their lives.

Let’s have a little less support for mass immigration into this country or the failed European project and a bit more representing the working man please.

Can’t rely on anyone from the Balls household for anything approaching common sense. Here’s his good lady wife back when she was a minister/seccy of state/whatever, okaying it for disabled people who can’t walk be passed as fit to work on the basis they’ve got imaginary wheelchairs. No, really! Check it out here.

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/blogs/2010/04/13/thousands-will-lose-benefits-as-harsher-medical-approved/

Now perhaps you can begin to understand why all these expensive tribunals are taking place, costing the country £60 million for last year they reckon. This is good economics? This is a very ugly and expensive farce, not to say malicious. Perhaps not surprisingly the Upper Tribunal (remember, Tribunals are courts of law) has had something to say about this and has determined that claimants not be assessed as fit to work unless aids (like wheelchairs) are actually available for use and can be used. I tell you, the stuff these people get away with because the general public never hear about it… where’s the Daily Mail on this one, eh? Anyway, both the Balls talk a lot of balls, that’s the lesson to take away here.

“In effect Ed Balls’ approach to the City is now identical to that of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.”

Which is why the only way to distinguish the parties is on social, green and defence policy.

16. Leon Wolfeson

@13 – Ah yes, a far right crusader once more fails to notice I’m a left-winger, not a centralist.

And right, “decent” racists and fascists will be able to return to the party of isolation and xenophobia in your little daydream. Let’s purge the non-racially pure, close the borders and burn the “taint” out of society!

17. Anon E Mouse

@16 – Leon Wolfeson

There you go again – true to form with your New Labour smearing.

Which bit wasn’t true?

The problem is that the project from Labour is over.

The sneering middle class toffs like Polly Toynbee, the tax avoiding Guardian newspaper – all fired up by the BBC – allowed the Labour government to ruin this country with their silly socialist dream of benefits, ill advised wars and ID cards.

It’s over and the sooner the clowns that believe cranks like Ed Miliband represent anyone in this country the better.

Then decent Labour voters will return to support the party and once the hapless leader has been dumped (get rid of the unrepresentative countess toff Harriet Harman as well) we may have a possible alternative government.

The Labour Party is supposed to represent the working class in this country and not a bunch of university educated professional politicians who’ve never done a normal days work in their lives.

Let’s have a little less support for mass immigration into this country or the failed European project and a bit more representing the working man please.

Then decent Labour voters will return

Oh God, please don’t let good ship decent rise back from up the depths! One war in Iraq was more than enough, ta muchly.

16 – you do know that it was left-wing “Old Labour” that initially kept us out of what would become the EU?

20. Leon Wolfeson

@19 – And it’s view changed over the decades, yes. This happens. Politics has lurched VERY strongly to the right, in fact.

The Tories used to be the party of quite a few things which they are no longer…

Ed Balls should never been taken seriously, as he was part of the previous cabinet whose policies almost brought down the UK banking system.

22. Leon Wolfeson

@21 – And what does that make the Tory leadership, who called for less bank regulation?

One of these days I’m hoping some of you lefties are going to become curious as to what the authentic liberal position is with regard to money and banking.

When the penny finally drops and you realise that the government cannot be trusted to create money out of thin air, and that inflation is not a means to bring wealth to everyone, but rather the means by which the many are expropriated by the few, then you will return to true liberalism; liberty, property, peace and free trade.

24. Leon Wolfeson

@23 – Nope, heard it before – central control of interest rates and banking regulation is entirely wrong. Nor should the government guarantee savings.

Never mind that it makes keeping gold under the bed the sensible option.

And of course you want to ensure that only armed thugs can “create” wealth with the slave labour they’d command. See: Somalia.

25. Anon E Mouse

@19 – Richard

I do know that regarding Labour and the EU – Tony Benn was most certainly right about how undemocratic they would turn out to be. It seems the Tories were the ones that kept signing up for more and more Europe.

What I find laughable about the left is the way they jump on any bandwagon to try to gain popularity but cannot see how unattractive to voters that actually is.

No one seriously expects the hapless Ed Miliband to ever be elected Prime Minister in this country yet they continue to insist black is white and must believe if they repeat it often enough we will buy it.

What is particularly sad is the way the Labour Party has been hijacked by lefties and seems to have lost it’s core reason for being.

That way the party is home to the likes of Polly Toynbee, Owen Jones – even “BenM” and “Leon Wolfson” and “Sally” at this blog who continue to advocate the positions they do.

Who on earth do any of those individuals actually represent and why do they believe that their unpleasantness and continuous dishonesty in their posts would be helpful to the party?

Labour needs to get it’s soul back and it isn’t going to happen with Ed Miliband or Ed Balls or any of those other numptys that were in the last government. We need New New Labour and we need it now…

26. Leon Wolfeson

@25 – Yes, quite, I mean, “burn the blackies” as your consistent platform is SO charming.

You also once more mistake the left and Labour, BNPer. (Same sense of discrimination you show, of course. The Labour party WAS centralist, and is now moving right. That you whine about it going left shows how desperate you are to ensure your dreams of racial purity.

And of course I advocate moderate left wing values and not killing people en-mass. Shame you disagree.

27. Anon E Mouse

@26 – Leon Wolfson

You say:

“And of course I advocate moderate left wing values and not killing people en-mass”

Whoever said you did advocate those things?

What we say is when you tell lies about being “ambushed” and beaten up on a UK high street by “marauding” BNP gangs because you’re white (twice) and then being bombed (once) and shot at (twice) it really makes your comments hard to take seriously.

If you think that being rude and obnoxious in public forums it is going to help your New Labour cause you are mistaken…

(Which bit of what I have said here isn’t true before you go into your New Labour smearing mode)

Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; we have created some nice procedures and we are looking to trade methods with other folks, why not shoot me an e-mail if interested.

Well… they have a spam issue now, don’t they, ‘seo’?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Where I agree with Maurice Glasman's criticism of Ed Balls http://t.co/BG4yccC5

  2. sunny hundal

    Here is where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of @EdBallsMP – http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  3. Get Labour Out

    Here is where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of @EdBallsMP – http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  4. SteveCooke

    Here is where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of @EdBallsMP – http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  5. sunny hundal

    Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  6. Christina Ross

    Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  7. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Where I agree with Maurice Glasman ’s criticism of Ed Balls http://t.co/uLwgqDeP

  8. Martin

    Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  9. Richard Murphy

    Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  10. John Baxendale

    Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  11. John D Clare

    Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  12. Neill Shenton

    RT @sunny_hundal:Maurice Glasman thinks Labour hasn't ditched its City-hugging past enough: I agree with that bit http://t.co/L6RvTA8I <yup

  13. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of Ed Balls http://t.co/hnoTsxaZ

  14. Cllr Darren Paffey

    “@sunny_hundal: Here is where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of @EdBallsMP – http://t.co/ZHz8btP7” > very good points made here.

  15. sunny hundal

    Here is where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of @EdBallsMP – http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  16. Rikbut

    Here is where I agree with Maurice Glasman’s criticism of @EdBallsMP – http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  17. sunny hundal

    …that article also reinforces my belief that their real beef is with Ed Balls' closeness to the City 'neo-liberalism' http://t.co/Be6jmCrU

  18. DPWF

    Sometimes even I agree with Maurice Glasman, such as when he critiques Ed Balls' cautious stance on separation of banks http://t.co/Q280P7fT

  19. Another reason to continue banker bashing | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] has been pitifully weak so far and will not deal with the big structural reasons. Even Ed Balls is pitifully weak on this [...]





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