David Cameron has signalled the need for “a better economy” in the UK, led by “genuinely popular capitalism”. Alex Blackburne picks out the key themes from the Prime Minister’s speech.
Responsibility was the theme as David Cameron delivered a speech in London yesterday about the need for ‘moral capitalism’ in the UK economy.
The Prime Minister said, “Out of this current adversity we can build a better economy, one that is truly fair and worthwhile.
“We won’t build a better economy by turning our back on the free market. We’ll do it by making sure that the market is fair as well as free.”
Cameron’s speech on moral capitalism comes just over a week after Labour leader Ed Miliband delivered a talk on the subject.
Gareth Thomas MP, Labour’s minister for civil society, responded to the Prime Minister’s speech, saying that, “Nobody is seriously going to believe that David Cameron stands for co-operatives or a more responsible capitalism when he’s leading a Government which is failing to stand up to powerful vested interests”.
Cameron had taken a similar dig at Labour in his speech, claiming that the party had “made a Faustian pact with the City” when it was in power.
“It seemed frightened of challenging vested interests”, he continued, “believing the interests of big business were always the same as those of the economy”.
The Prime Minister added that moral or responsible capitalism was something that had been ingrained in the Conservative party’s ethics “for centuries”.
He said, “Corporate social responsibility and environmental responsibility have been constant themes in the arguments I’ve made and the policies we’ve developed.
“Soon after I was elected leader I said that we should not just stand up for business, but also stand up to big business when it was in the national interest.
“Three years ago I argued that the previous government’s turbo-capitalism turned a blind eye to corporate excess, while we believed in responsible capitalism and would make it happen.”
Where would moral capitalism leave ethical investors, though?
A keen purveyor of capitalism, Richard Hunter, director at Equity Invest, spoke to Blue & Green Tomorrow earlier this month. He said he considers it an integral part of the system, despite what many individuals in the ethical investment sector might think.
“A lot of ethical and environmental investors block out capitalism because they don’t get it”, he explained.
“They say, ‘No, actually it’s not for me’; because most of them are socialists, and I think they’re missing a huge, huge point, that actually, good capitalism is absolutely essential for the system.
“We need people to be working, because that’s where you get dignity. We need people to be making things and creating things.
“The best way of doing that, if you’ve got a load of money stuck in a bank, is to invest it.”
Hunter said he was in agreement with the underlying theme of the Prime Minister’s speech.
“At last the philosophy of ‘moral capitalism’ seems to be gaining ground”, he said.
“Providing people with the freedom and opportunity to work and create wealth is essential in creating sustainable communities where we can live with dignity.”
David Cameron emphasised the need for more innovation at a start-up level, stating that he respected those that had bitten their bullets to go it alone.
“I admire more than almost anything the bravery of those who turn their back on the security of a regular wage to follow their dreams and start a company.
“If you take a risk, quit your job, create the next Google or Facebook and wind up a billionaire, then more power to your elbow.
“And if you took a punt, invested your money in that hugely risky start-up, and made a fortune, then fair play to you.
“And let’s also recognise those people who take risks, who don’t succeed first time but persevere.”
A lot of these growth-stage companies are based around making the world more sustainable, and there are funds that offer you the chance to invest in them.
Ask your financial adviser or fill in our online form and we’ll show you how your money can make a difference, and hopefully, realise the Prime Minister’s pledge for the UK economy to be more responsible.