Friday, 2 January 2009

'Ethical capitalism' - Cameron restates ethos of responsibility

On the heals of a New Year message, in which David Cameron stressed his commitment to responsible social policy and a green agenda, the Conservative leader has called for ‘more ethical capitalism’ in a radio interview. He has clearly begun 2009 keen to emphasise that his party does not represent unalloyed free market ideology, nor is it heartless or ‘do nothing’ as Labour has implied.

Cameron is right to underline the Conservatives' continued dedication to these principles. Although the party was bound to oppose Gordon Brown as he pledged to borrow the UK out of trouble, there has been a danger that the communitarian message would become lost in the hard economics of the financial crisis. The Conservative emphasis on fiscal accountability must not be confused with reluctance to help the needy or determination to rapidly shrink public services.

Untrammelled free market economics have been discredited and Cameron’s call to instil a greater sense of responsibility within business and the financial sector chimes melodiously with his communitarian reading of conservatism as well as the mood of the electorate. His party is also formulating plans aimed at helping consumers and businesses as well as getting credit moving where it matters most.

"We need a more ethical capitalism. I don't think the answer to the current crisis is to tear up the market system and go back to 1970s-style socialism, but we do need a more ethical capitalism in which we recognise that business has real responsibilities. Business is not just about making money. It is also about acting in an ethical way and I think we need to build a more ethical capitalism in Britain as we come out of this dreadful recession.”

Cameron will do well to ignore the wilder fringes of his party and stick to this line.

No comments: