Not since David Bowie noticed something oddly familiar about Ice Ice Baby can the influence be seen quite as clearly. It might not be mentioned in the speech. It wasn’t mentioned in the pre-trip episode of Web Cameron. But David Cameron’s remarks to the semi-chastened masters of the universerse at Davos show the unmistakable imprint of Phillip Blond’s “Red Tory Moment”, this month’s Prospect front cover; great news both for Cameron, who is showing a rare ability to pick up interesting ideas—first with his enthusiasm for Nudge, now this—but also for Phillip himself, whose ideas clearly are gaining ground.
Just to point out a few of the places in the speech. The write up in the Guardian came with the headline “recapitalise the poor, not the banks, says Cameron.” Not quite a quote, but the resemblance to Blond’s conclusion isn’t difficult to see, where he says: “the task of recapitalising the poor is, therefore, the task of making the market work for the many, not the few.” Elsewhere Cameron argues: “this is what too many people see when they look at capitalism today: markets without morality; globalisation without competition.” Both sentiments, but especially the latter, seem influenced by mid-section of Phillip’s piece, in which he argues that Thatcherism rarely coped with the market’s tendency towards anti-competitive monopoly. Then, in case there was any room for doubt, on the extract on the Conservative party website, we have:
David stressed the importance of shaping capitalism to suit the needs of society rather than shaping society to suit the needs of capitalism. He explained that that means “standing up to business when the things that people value at risk,” creating vibrant, local economies, and spreading opportunity and wealth and ownership more equally through society.
The final sentence, in particular, echoes Blond’s argument that the right should seek “to empower communities and build new, vibrant local economies that can uphold the party’s civic vision” and build “a new economic and capital base that decentralises power and extends wealth.”
All of this is to the good. Phillip’s article has already sparked debate—from Sunder Katwala’s excellent response on Liberal Conspiracy, to the christian right, the Daily Telegraph, and various more partisan ripostes in other places. And its great to see his ideas also being listened to by the…