August 12, 2007


The Conservative policy group on business has just produced its latest report calling for swinging cuts in regulation. The Labour party has greeted this by attacking the Conservatives for being rightwing in putting out this report- of course what we are seeing in that is classic spin. The Tory policy group is only that its only a policy group- this isn't Tory policy until its adopted by the front bench- it might indicate conservative thinking- but to lambast it as a Conservative turn to the right is ridiculous.

But I would go further. Just to say that cutting regulation is rightwing- is to invite a question- is retaining unhelpful regulation leftwing. I haven't read the report, I haven't studied its conclusions therefore I have no view about it- but I don't think that cutting unneccessary regulation should neccessarily be stigmatised as a turn to the right. The issue is that Labour are not criticising the detail of the report- which is legitimate- but merely suggesting that its rightwing.

Ultimately this is an interesting test for the leftwing blogosphere. Studying the detail of the report and criticising it is what they should do- but merely criticising it for being rightwing would be to avoid the issue in reality. The rightwing blogosphere can be just as guilty of this- and have been in the past- and no doubt will have opportunities to demonstrates their seriousness. But ultimately this is a test for the left not the right- so far the government have as you would expect spun- but for pundits to see if they are serious if they comment on John Redwood see how much detail they deal with and see how much the word rightwing is used and then judge their seriousness.


Ashok said...

I submit that one is looking for a particular standard of detail. More detail does not automatically mean an absence of spin.

What you're looking for actually is more in the attitude they approach the report with. Somehow we got it in our heads that if we debate for any reason, debate alone will bring out the truth. But isn't it possible to only debate to mar one's opponent? In which case, wouldn't debate just be people trying to mar each other? And what would we get - or what are we getting - taking such debate seriously?

Vino S said...

I agree that regulation is not necessarily left-wing or right-wing. I think that - normally in the context of business regulation - because the right is seen as being free-market, deregulation is seen as being right-wing. However, I agree that regulation is not necessarily left-wing or right-wing - it depends on the detail of the regulation. For example, laws protecting small shops (like in France) are often more supported by the right, since they assist small shopkeepers who disproportionately vote for them.

Also, in Britain, in 1947 one of the biggest acts of deregulation was carried out by the young Labour President of the Board of Trade - Harold Wilson - when he carried out a 'bonfire of controls' left over from the war.

The Evil European said...

Part of the problem is the 'deregulation' in the right-wing sense is used as a proxy for attacking social aspects of the free-market economy.
ut de-regulation or regulation itself is, as the other have pointed out, neither left-wing or right-wing.
Regulation is required to have an effective free-market, and can create economic oppurtities. Regulation is also required for the social aspects of that free-market, and while 'business leaders' might not like it, society has not be construcuted or run soley for thier benefit.
It is always amuses me that the most heavily regualtied and taxed countires on Earth are also the most desirable, and the most competative, ones to live in......would you rather live in Sweden or Somalia?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they intend to deregulate immigration or drugs? NO?? Thought not... Abandoning the war on pot and instead collecting taxes on it would probably lop about 10 pence off the basic rate of tax - is this left wing or right wing?