Time to rein in the wreckless

Former Labour minister turned thinktank chief Chris Leslie gives his reaction to Alistair Darling's

Alistair's speech to conference today may not be the talk of the bar at the Midland Hotel - most delegates wanted far more radicalism - but there's no doubt that it was the most significant contribution to the actual debates so far.

He didn't detail a raft of policy specifics, nor did he commit to new spending plans. But the Chancellor did signal that the normal market orthodoxies which have let rip in the city are at last facing the prospect of restraint and accountability.

This is seismic stuff and Labour's leadership would do well to capture the imagination of the vast majority of the British public by acting decisively to curb excessive speculation and the perverse bonus culture that has fuelled the recent financial turmoil.

It's not only morally right that Labour reins in those wrecklessly gambling with the livelihoods of others, it is essential if we are to rebuild an efficient and successful economy.

Short-selling stocks and talking down the prospects of companies can become a cancer that deters long term investment and destabilises rationale investment choices.

We are witnessing the dawning realisation that markets have their limits, that at the edges of economics there are vital political interests, and that those advocating sturdy regulation and transparency have been right all along.

Britain now has an opportunity to lead the world in the design of a fairer and more open system of international checks and balances. And Labour should highlight the reliance of the Tories on the old laissez faire paradigms now wholly defunct.

Gordon will need to maintain early momentum and strike while the iron is hot. In the new circumstances we find ourselves in there is a real chance to put Cameron on the back foot, especially if hypothecating some tax revenues from the very richest and giving a tax break to the vast majority.

The Tories like to talk about "sharing the proceeds of growth". Those whose wealth has ballooned unfairly during the boom times should be asked to share some of the proceeds of their privileged growth with ordinary working people.

The Tories cannot afford to oppose any reasonable moves to tax and regulate the super-rich. There is a new licence to act boldly in the air and Labour must capitalise on that new mood.

Hinting at changes and chiming with some of the instincts of Labour's delegates is sufficient for this week, but the real test will be on policy activism in Alistair's pre budget report.

Chris Leslie is chair of Labour’s backbench Treasury Committee and was shadow Chancellor in 2015. 

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OK, let's do this: who REALLY won Legs-It? An exclusive investigation

Look, some of you just aren't treating this question with the seriousness it deserves. 

This morning, the Daily Mail front page dared to look past the minutiae of Brexit - can my EU partner still live here? Why is my holiday so expensive? Should we be worried that David Davis looks like a man who's ended up a minister because he lost a bet? - to ask the really big question. 

Yes, indeed. Who is Top of the Tibia? Who shines in the shin department? Which of these impressive, powerful women has lower limbs which best conform to our arbitrary beauty standards? 

In the accompanying article, Sarah Vine (herself the owner of not one, but TWO lower limbs) wrote that the women put on a show of unity with "two sets of hands clasped calmly on the arms of their respective chairs", disdaining the usual diplomatic practice of accompanying discussions about Article 50 with a solemn, silent re-enactment of the Macarena.

Vine adds: "But what stands out here are the legs – and the vast expanse on show. There is no doubt that both women consider their pins to be the finest weapon in their physical arsenal. Consequently, both have been unsheathed." That's right, people: Theresa May has been unafraid to wear a skirt, rather than a pair of trousers with one leg rolled up like LL Cool J. A departure for Mrs May, to be sure, but these are uncertain times and showing off just one calf might see the stock markets plunge.

The prime minister has come to the bold decision that her legs are the "finest weapons in her physical armoury", when others might argue it's the sharp, retractable venom-filled spurs on her fore-limbs. (Oh wait, my mistake. That's the duck-billed platypus.)

As ever, the bien-pensant left is squawking about sexism and avoiding the real issue: who really won Legs-it? Well, there will be no handwringing over how this is a belittling way to treat two female politicians here, thank you very much. We shall not dwell on the fact that wearing a skirt while doing politics is not really remarkable enough to merit a front page, oh no. Instead, we shall bravely attempt to answer that Very Important Question. 

Who really won Legs-it? 

1. David Cameron

We might not know who won Legs-It, but let's be honest - we all know who lost. David Cameron here has clearly concluded that, much like Andrew Cooper's pre-referendum polling results, his legs are best hidden away while everyone politely pretends they don't exist. 

Legs-It Rating: 2/10

2. Michael Gove

Fun fact: Michael Gove's upper thighs are equipped with sharp, retractable claws, which aid him in knifing political rivals in the back.

Legs-It Rating: 8/10

3. David Davis

Mr Davis's unusually wide stance here suggests that one leg doesn't know what the other is doing. His expression says: this walking business is more difficult than anyone let on, but I mustn't let it show. Bad legs are better than no legs.  

Legs-It Rating: 6/10

4. Boris Johnson

Real talk: these legs don't really support Boris Johnson, they're just pretending they do to advance their career. 

Legs-It Rating: 6/10

5. George Osborne

Take in these long, cool pins. These are just two out of George Osborne's six legs. 

Legs-It Rating: 9/10

6. Liam Fox

In the past, Liam Fox has faced criticism for the way his left leg follows his right leg around on taxpayer-funded foreign trips. But those days are behind him now.

Legs-It Rating: 10/10

7. Nigel Farage

So great are the demands on the former Ukip leader's time these days, that his crotch now has a thriving media career of its own, independent from his trunk and calves. Catch it on Question Time from Huddersfield next month. 

Legs-It Rating: 7/10

Conclusion

After fearlessly looking at nine billion photos of legs in navy trousers, we can emphatically conclude that THEY ARE ALL BASICALLY THE SAME LEG. Life is great as a male politician, isn't it?

I'm a mole, innit.