Finally, Theresa May has – in her speech marking the Bank of England’s independence – offered the defence of capitalism ‘that the country has been waiting to hear’, says the Daily Telegraph. It’s about time, argues the paper, which accuses Jeremy Corbyn of ‘selling a vision of socialism’ to an audience too young to remember the ‘grim’ seventies. This makes it vital that the Tories fight back. The ‘intellectual case’ for capitalism is an ‘easy’ one for the party to make. But what about the moral argument? Margaret Thatcher spoke with a ‘deep confidence’ in the free market. And while it’s true that May is no Thatcher, our current PM could still learn a thing or two from her predecessor. May talks of ‘ a free market combined with sensible regulation’. But ‘pushed too far’, this argument is in danger of undermining itself, the Telegraph says. Yet despite these reservations, the Telegraph is full of praise for the PM making the case for capitalism. ‘It is heartening – refreshing, in fact – to hear a Conservative leader explain how capitalism makes for citizens who are freer (and) richer’. When she takes to the stage in Manchester at the Tory party conference next week, she should ‘build on’ this vision.
The Sun agrees with the Telegraph’s analysis, arguing that it is time for the Tories to speak to ‘an increasingly sceptical public of the merits’ of capitalism. They should point out the obvious, says the paper – for instance ‘the relative affluence, easy commerce and modern conveniences’ of Britain today. People might take those things for granted, says the Sun. But without capitalism they could all disappear. For those ‘beguiled’ by Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘socialist snake-oil’, the government needs to offer more, however, in the form of a ‘vast house-building programme’. Bringing some fairness back to the system – ‘forcing dodgy corporations to pay their taxes’, for example – will also help. And for those who think Corbyn has something to offer, they should take a look at the treatment of Uber in London: this is ‘ is the first small taste of the Left wielding its power’, argues the Sun. If Labour do make it to Downing Street, ‘young people should get used to it.’.
And could the aftermath of the financial crash and Brexit spell the end of the Bank of England’s independence? That’s the possibility put forward in the Guardian’s editorial this morning, with the paper saying the desire to ‘take back control’ could easily end up being applied to the Bank. The consequences of this would be ‘devastating’, argues the Guardian. But the paper warns that this debate is part of a wider picture of the country’s changing attitudes towards our economy. Theresa May has offered a ‘rebuttal’ of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour conference vision. Yet the PM and Labour leader actually have more in common than they might like to think, says the Guardian. It’s true that May ’hardly shares’ Corbyn’s ‘analysis of Thatcherite economics’. But both May and Corbyn ‘envisage a retreat from free markets by expanding the role of the state in the economy’, according to the Guardian. Corbyn is right to say, as he did in Brighton, that the centre of gravity in politics has shifted to the left. And whoever triumphs in the next general election will be the party leader who appreciates this point and ’has the better measure of the public mood’.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.