Of course looking closely it was always a nonsense idea. It would be hard to make a case for it even just for good economic times. There never was any logic to it. What was the market? How was it controlled or who controlled it? The forces are spoken of in almost mythical terms and the idea of their supremacy followed with a religious fervour. There is no science to it. The people in the City who swear by it have either degrees in such as ancient Scandinavian languages or very rich fathers who worked in the city before them.
Why should we think that the market force of competition should give us better railways, cleaner hospitals or more efficient school exam markings? There were no guarantees except short-term cost savings. Why should we think that unregulated competition was the best way of running the housing mortgage system? Now the failure of market forces is going to give most of us a decrease in standard of living.
It was good in a way to see two recent articles on the BBC website with market force believers beginning to doubt the truth in the idea. First a couple of weeks ago was an economist looking at the failures of market forces in light of the present economic difficulties and now we have the Stephen Green, taipan and chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, bankers to the opium trade, calling for regulation of banking executive pay to stop the reliance of the banking industry's management to short-term profits and big bonuses. (OK it should be called HSBC or something and the opium bit was a long time ago. I wonder if they have any rich Afghan farmers as clients.)
"Laissez-Faire" or a reliance on market forces is just an excuse for lazy government whether it's Gordon Brown's New Labour or David Cameron's Tory.