Way ahead

Have Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Labour decided to part ways with the “Third Way” (your report, 1 July)?

The tone of his speech to the London Business School might suggest he is refuting a lot of what the Blair/Brown administrations (which he did so much to influence) achieved in the decade from 1997. Not quite.

He is concerned now with downward pressure on real wages, control of immigration, and the need for tighter regulation of the business and financial world.

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He is responding to a growing uncertainty in the public mood, the rise of political parties like Ukip in Europe and a diminution in recent years in living standards.

But he is not rejecting what the “Third Way” was all about. Why should he?

Its principles helped deliver unparalleled prosperity in the United States in the last decade of the 20th century and the return of two Labour administrations in the United Kingdom with
massive majorities.

The “Third Way” was itself a
response to the failed political strategies of the past. One was based on state intervention and tax and spend policies and the other on an unbridled commitment to the free market.

Neither was in tune with the mood of the majority. Most
people saw the need for stronger public/private co-operation in the business and public sectors, less regulation, a stronger sense of community, less waste in large bodies both public and private, a stronger commitment to the
environment, and the need to promote equality of opportunity.

The downside of all this was the abuse of power in some parts of the financial sector, and a
stubborn political correctness in all areas of public life. That does not mean that the basic aims were wrong.

Mr Balls is right to try and
reassure voters that regulation will be tighter and immigration controlled effectively.

But he needs to tread warily and not give the impression that Labour is abandoning modern principles for which there is still wide support.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court