Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation


4:47 pm - September 15th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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Ed Miliband is profiled in the Telegraph today, through an extensive interview by Charles Moore.

The interviewed featured one throw-away line on Thatcher: ‘My dad was sceptical of all the Thatcher aspirational stuff. But I felt you sort of had to recognise that what she was talking about struck a chord‘.

This was mischievously spun by the Telegraph in a news story as ‘Ed Miliband praises Thatcher‘, and many on the left fell straight for the trolling.

But the more substantive parts of the interview are these:

Tony and Gordon were products of their historical circumstances. They had to break with the past, but in the process, New Labour became too credulous about business: The consensus around regulation [‘light touch’] turned out to be really problematic.

The project became ‘too easy and accepting’ about globalisation: It’s just not true that all the top CEOs will leave the country unless we pay them whatever they demand.

That is spot on.

Also, here’s a bit on Clause 4

Clause 4 is wrong about ownership, he says. ‘We’ve learnt that the state is no good at running, say, the car business’. But Clause 4, I persist, doesn’t talk about state ownership (though that is what most of its supporters meant). It speaks of ‘common ownership’. Isn’t ownership one of the greatest problems of the current disasters? ‘Definitely!’ he exclaims. So wouldn’t forms of common ownership be a good thing?

He looks interested, but cautious. ‘A company is not accountable just to its owners, but to its workers and its customers.’ He cites Anthony Crosland, the moderate Labour thinker of the 1950s, who argued that capitalism had changed fundamentally. ‘He even said that bosses no longer felt they could pay themselves whatever they liked. What on earth has happened between then and now?’

What Mr Miliband wants is ‘responsible capitalism’. His father would have called that a contradiction in terms, wouldn’t he? ‘Yes! But I believe capitalism is the least worst system we’ve got. I believe in the creativity of Blackberry [picking up his], or whatever. But I want it to be more decent, more humane, more fraternal.’ An employee should be on every remuneration committee. There is ‘a strong case’ for making takeovers more difficult.

On Socialism

I bring him back to where he started. Isn’t the great lesson from his parents’ that socialism was a god that failed? ‘No!’, exclaims Ed Miliband vehemently, because socialism is not a rigid economic doctrine, but ‘a set of values’ It is ‘a tale that never ends’. Indeed, the strange fact is that ‘While there’s capitalism, there’ll be socialism, because there is always a response to injustice.’

On capitalist parasites

At this point, a mosquito settles on my shoulder. With a commanding show of decision, Mr Miliband squashes it, spattering its remarkably copious blood over my light grey suit. So that’s how he deals with capitalist parasites.

Over at ConservativeHome, Paul Goodman is right to worry. He says in response: ‘Don’t let Miliband gain a monopoly in the struggle against crony capitalism’.

The full interview is here.

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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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Reader comments


Great piece Sunny. That is precisely how I read Ed’s words. Others were too quick to rush to judgement.

It’s a very good interview.

An employee on every remuneration committee will not save the day…will the employee have the right credentials to understand what is going on or have the reousrces to ballot other employees…

I suggest Ed swallows a truck load of laxatives followed by gallons of Rescue Remedy and save the country from privateers.

The partly digested cupcake&latte lifestyle is not going to be the making of any future (supposedly labour) leader/PM.

Shameful.

Good one Sunny

A key insight from Andre Schleifer and a good, timely reason for pausing for thought: Understanding regulation

The American and European societies are much richer today than they were 100 years ago, yet they are also vastly more regulated. Today, we live in houses and apartment buildings whose construction – from zoning, to use of materials, to fire codes – is heavily regulated. We eat food grown with heavily regulated fertilizers and hormones, processed in heavily regulated factories with publicly monitored technologies, and sold in heavily regulated outlets with elaborate labels and warnings. Our means of transport, including cars, buses, and airplanes, are made, sold, driven, and maintained under heavy government regulation. Our children attend schools that teach heavily regulated curriculae, visit doctors following heavily regulated procedures and paid government-controlled prices, and play on play-grounds using government-mandated safety standards.
http://scholar.harvard.edu/sites/scholar.iq.harvard.edu/files/shleifer/files/02_eufm00121.pdf

6. Dengue or Dung

Lab mps are trying to ingratiate themselves with the telegraph more than anyone else we know. Mosquitoes come in many deadly varieties – beware the dangers of irreversibility. Once its gone (public service) its anarchy.

This shows why health and safety regulations are necessary and why the regulations need to be enforced:

(Reuters) – At least 314 people burnt to death as fire swept through factories in two cities in Pakistan, police and government officials said on Wednesday, raising questions about industrial safety in the South Asian nation.

Flames raced through a garment factory in the teeming commercial capital of Karachi, killing 289 people. Many people had been lining up to collect their paycheques, officials said.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/12/uk-pakistan-fire-idUKBRE88B07A20120912

And this is one reason for building regulations:

Despite Major Earthquake Zero Tokyo Buildings Collapsed Thanks to Stringent Building Codes
http://inhabitat.com/despite-record-breaking-earthquake-no-buildings-in-tokyo-collapsed-thanks-to-stringent-building-codes/

Another good reason for regulation:

Just 100 cod left in North Sea – Overfishing has left fewer than 100 adult cod in the North Sea, it was reported.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/9546004/Just-100-cod-left-in-North-Sea.html#

In medieval times, there was a flourishing business in both Britain and France collecting oysters for consumption. Alas, in Britain, the industry eventually failed through over-exploitation of oyster beds but not in France because of regulations which introduced seasonal restrictions for gathering oysters:
http://www.oysters.us/france-18-19.html

I bring him back to where he started. Isn’t the great lesson from his parents’ that socialism was a god that failed? ‘No!’, exclaims Ed Miliband vehemently, because socialism is not a rigid economic doctrine, but ‘a set of values’ It is ‘a tale that never ends’. Indeed, the strange fact is that ‘While there’s capitalism, there’ll be socialism, because there is always a response to injustice.’

Sounds like some woolly feel-good religion rather than a set of principles.

Socialism is about shared ownership, whether you interpret that as State ownership – which failed – or something which actually puts economic and democtatic into the hands that do the work.

12. Richard Carey

@ 5 Bob B,

that is one of the purist examples of ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ I’ve ever seen. Do you really believe that the scientific and material improvements of the 20th century are attributed to regulation? I doubt it.

As for the example @ 9: “Just 100 cod left in North Sea – Overfishing has left fewer than 100 adult cod in the North Sea, it was reported.” there are regulations, under the Common Fisheries Policy, so I wouldn’t claim this as a feather in the regulator’s cap.

13. Richard Carey

re: Ed M,

“socialism is not a rigid economic doctrine, but ‘a set of values’ It is ‘a tale that never ends’.”

Is this correct? Socialism is a combination of a shaggy dog story and an ethical creed. It would be good to get the definition straight finally, and socialists can stop pretending they have anything much to say about economic theory, which is a separate disciple to ethics.

At this point, they may hopefully grasp that the surest way to achieve the things concordant with their values is through the voluntary exchange of free individuals, i.e. free market capitalism. Come on lefties, let’s not waste another century on war, destruction and tyranny.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation http://t.co/aIKoMasT

  2. Riana Rara Kalsum

    Ed Miliband: New Labour's approach to regulation was "really problematic" http://t.co/KXJLFplf

  3. steve

    Ed Miliband: New Labour's approach to regulation was "really problematic" http://t.co/KXJLFplf

  4. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation http://t.co/139MFADK

  5. Alex Braithwaite

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ggfgbehK via @libcon#well worth a read

  6. Chris Townsend

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/YdEa3hDY via @libcon

  7. Clive Burgess

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/GXjINfUJ via @libcon

  8. saramo

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/zjLVXc3r via @libcon

  9. Jethro Perkins

    “@sunny_hundal: Ed Miliband: New Labour's approach to regulation was "really problematic" http://t.co/ZPkdOBH1” Understatement.

  10. Robert CP

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HtuQV81f via @libcon

  11. elizabeth westgaph

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/kKP7E13J via @libcon…… What Ed really said.

  12. Phillip Edwards

    http://t.co/jVOERJ79

  13. Gareth Hughes

    Ed M: New Labour “really problematic” on regulation http://t.co/9zZndOdm

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    […] you would guess from The Guardian’s report quoted above (see Sunny Hundal’s post on Liberal Conspiracy) – and this might possibly be connected to The Guardian’s apparent lack of support for […]





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