It is widely expected that the Prime Minister is going to start calling for a more moral form of capitalism. I have a simple test of whether a politician is trying to debate, or avoid, tough policy questions – I ask myself whether anybody would disagree with the opposite of what the politician is calling for.
During the 1997 election campaign, for example, the Labour Party called for an “integrated transport system”. Clearly nobody wanted the opposite – a dis-integrated transport system. What the Labour Party actually wanted was a state-planned transport system because they did not believe that the market would bring about a more integrated system. But it was not convenient for Labour to talk about specifics.
So, who is for a more immoral form of capitalism? Since no party would make that its campaign slogan, the harder question is what detailed policies does David Cameron want to put behind his empty slogan? Does he believe that morality within the market system can be improved by state regulation? Does he simply want people to look at their own consciences and freely choose a better way of life? Or does he, like some other politicians who call for a more moral capitalism, want a market system that punishes people who are reckless with and lose large amounts of other people’s money? These are the substantive policy issues on which the Prime Minister needs to reveal his position.
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