‘As we approach the most important general election for a generation, this is no time for introspection or defeatism. There's never been a moment when Labour's values and experience have been more relevant or necessary.’
And what are those values? Well, they’re not Blairite:
‘In public-service reform, we sometimes sounded as though private-sector solutions were always more efficient; and who can now doubt that, despite the tougher measures we brought in, financial regulation was not tough enough?’
The most telling statement is that Balls believes markets to be intrinsically unstable and therefore the state must reign supreme:
‘The biggest global recession in our lifetimes has not only required unprecedented action, it has also shattered some of the assumptions the right have clung to for decades. Who would now dare claim that financial markets, left to their own devices, are efficient or inherently stabilising? Or that financial market regulation is always to be reduced wherever possible?
The global financial crisis of the past year has underlined the importance of our defining philosophy: while markets are powerful drivers of growth and innovation, there is a vital role for the state in making sure they work fairly and in the public interest.’
Labour needs philosophical direction. Blairites have been voluble, but are not being heard: the canning of Alan Milburn’s social mobility report and the ostracising of James Purnell's are cases in point. Following John Cruddas’ intervention last week, Derek Simpson out-Scargilling Scargill and now Balls’ intervention, there's no doubt in which direction the party, subconsciously, is headed.