Cameron sells vision of 'popular capitalism'
Prime Minister David Cameron set out his vision of a "socially responsible and genuinely popular capitalism" yesterday.
In a high-profile speech in London, Mr Cameron defended the market and free enterprise as "the best imaginable force for improving human wealth and happiness", but said that reforms were needed to ensure that everyone has a chance to benefit from them.
The Prime Minister accepted that the financial crisis and the slow recovery from recession had shaken public confidence in the capitalist economy.
But he declared: "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."
And he added: "I want these difficult economic times to achieve more than just paying down the deficit and encouraging growth.
"I want them to lead to a socially responsible and genuinely popular capitalism. One in which the power of the market and the obligations of responsibility come together.
"One in which we improve the market by making it fair as well as free, and in which many more people get a stake in the economy and share in the rewards of success.
"That's the vision of a better, more worthwhile economy that we're building.
Mr Cameron's speech follows calls from Labour leader Ed Miliband for "responsible capitalism" which would treat "predatory" businesses differently from those which make long-term investments in the economy.
Mr Miliband said he did not believe the PM was "serious about this agenda" and challenged him to act on rip-off bank charges, exorbitant train fare increases and the "rigged" energy market, telling Mr Cameron: "Let's judge you on your deeds and not your words."
Mr Cameron insisted he had been raising concerns over the operation of the economy for some time, pointing to speeches dating back to his election as Conservative leader in 2005 when he said he would not just stand up for business but stand up to business.
It was vital to "use this crisis of capitalism to improve markets, not undermine them", and Conservatives were well-placed to do this, he said.
"We are the party that understands how to make capitalism work; the party that has constantly defended our open economy against the economics of socialism," said Mr Cameron.
"So where others see problems with markets as a chance to weaken them, I see problems with markets as an opportunity to improve them."