If David Cameron has any doubt that he is on the right track espousing ‘moral capitalism’ as an appropriate response to the current economic climate, he should banish it, following Simon Heffer’s extraordinary diatribe in the Daily Telegraph. The champion of Little England summons up a monstrous, hypocritical rant invoking the type of Free Market idealism which should be anathema to a Conservative like Cameron, for whom scepticism of ideology forms a central tenet of his philosophical credo.
This is Heffer at his tub thumping worst. Markets are the guarantor of freedom and are inherently ‘moral’. Market regulation is conflated with constraint of people’s liberty. Any type of interference in markets is akin to communism. Cameron is proposing to ‘Sovietise capitalism out of existence’.
Clearly this brand of utopian faith in markets is exactly what the current Conservative leader opposes. He is not suggesting heavy handed regulation. He simply plans to regulate against the worst irresponsible excesses and steer the economy towards a broader base of capital. It is an ambition which has a sure philosophical lineage within conservatism and it is a more moderate, more attractive reading of that tradition than anything Heffer espouses.
It is no accident that the Conservatives have recovered their extensive lead at the same time that Cameron has chosen to re-emphasise his communitarian credentials. The best way to fritter away that advantage would be to listen to naysayers like Heffer.