progress is not the elimination of struggle, but rather a change in its terms’ - Aneurin Bevan

hands off the north-east!

Cameron appears to have scored an own goal - and this will have an impact in other regions which, as a result of Conservative policy to manage the decline in manufacturing employment during the 80s and 90s, are heavily dependent upon public spending.

Perhaps the most significant policy disagreement between Labour and the Conservatives when it comes to deficit reduction is on the role of industrial policy.

In recent months, the Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has argued for an active industrial policy that involves "market-shaping" - the use of public spending by regional development agencies, etc., to attract and maintain inward investment by providing the necessary infrastructure and skills training.

This is not something Ken Clarke is keen on, and although George Osbourne has spoken of the need to focus on expanding manufacturing, the report by James Dyson for the Conservatives appears to contradict their policy of scrapping R&D incentives to pay for a cut in corporation tax.

News reports have it that certain Labour cabinet members expressed regret during the financial crisis that the party did not develop a critique of capitalism. However, Mandelson's industrial activism and Brown's talk of "fair markets" imply a critical approach that Cameron and the Conservative Party are thought to lack.

Increasingly, the criticism being made by Labour is that the Conservatives are wedded to a free market approach to the economy which has been discredited during the global recession.

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