Capitalism and conservatism

Successful Conservative economic policies have always been based on the principles of capitalism. Those principles have not been given much prominence recently. Will they now be vigorously reasserted? That was the question that Alistair Lexden posed in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph on 2 October as the Conservative Party prepared to debate the economy at its annual conference in Manchester.

SIR-- Mrs May has attracted praise by speaking up for capitalism at long last (Leading article, September 29). At the general election it was far from obvious that she had a deep attachment to it.

No Conservative document has ever done so much damage to the capitalist cause as the interventionist manifesto written for her by ex-chief of staff Nick Timothy and the ex-MP Ben Gummer.

The case for capitalism needs to be advanced with the ardour that Jeremy Corbyn has brought to the advocacy of socialism, enabling him to capture young voters in droves with its bogus prospectus for greater prosperity through the central direction of economic resources.

His success comes the more easily because the Tories have failed to secure for young people one of the principal benefits of capitalism: the wide diffusion of property, particularly in the form of home ownership. It is a cardinal tenet of conservatism that property is the foundation of a free society.

The occasional speech in favour of capitalism will not turn the tide. The fervour that Keith Joseph brought to the task of propagating it in the Seventies needs to be rekindled.

The overwhelming merits of capitalism must be demonstrated once again by means of policies of low taxation and free enterprise, which would extend prosperity throughout the nation. Is Mrs May up to the task?

Lord Lexden
Director, Conservative Political Centre 1988-97
London SW1