In this interesting interview sent by our reader Niall in London, the Labour leader Ed Miliband speaks to conservative journalist Charles Moore. Miliband says that he wants to save capitalism, not destroy it, as his late father wanted to do. Look at this bit from Moore’s feature about their discussion:
If we can remedy the woes of capitalism, Ed Miliband hopes, we can remoralise our society. ‘The experience of the Olympics was a moment my generation hadn’t known before. It really did feel as if we were all in this together. The Tories were on to something when they used that phrase, but they haven’t done anything with it. What depresses me about David Cameron is how he’s changed. Five years ago, he was hugging a hoodie. Now it’s so different. It does people’s heads in.’ He thinks Blair’s Millennium Dome was a ‘manufactured’ effort to re-forge a national identity. The London Olympics have achieved the real thing.
Yet the structure of society does not reflect these values. ‘John Major wanted a country at ease with itself. That’s so important. But how can people feel at ease when those at the top are ripping everyone else off?
We want a market economy, not a market society’. Conservative-minded people recognise this as much as the Left, he thinks. Unrestrained free markets can destroy other valuable things – a 60-hour week, for example, undermining family life.
He adds that people’s feeling of powerlessness in the face of capitalism is matched by the same sense in relation to government. The state ‘seems remote and unaccountable’ and ‘it remains an issue for the Left’ to acknowledge this properly.
It is a peculiarity of this political moment that neither socialism nor the market as we’ve been taught to think of it since the Reagan-Thatcher era can command much faith as the solution to the sickness we’re now dealing with. Moore — who, recall, is a traditionalist Tory — writes, “The crisis of capitalism is so deep: people don’t believe politicians can do anything about it.”
That’s true, don’t you think? Remember, Moore, who is a Thatcher biographer, wrote a column last summer saying that the Right has some things to learn from the Left about economics. Excerpt:
It has taken me more than 30 years as a journalist to ask myself this question, but this week I find that I must: is the Left right after all? You see, one of the great arguments of the Left is that what the Right calls “the free market” is actually a set-up.
The rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labour. The freedom that results applies only to them. The many simply have to work harder, in conditions that grow ever more insecure, to enrich the few. Democratic politics, which purports to enrich the many, is actually in the pocket of those bankers, media barons and other moguls who run and own everything.
And when the banks that look after our money take it away, lose it and then, because of government guarantee, are not punished themselves, something much worse happens. It turns out – as the Left always claims – that a system purporting to advance the many has been perverted in order to enrich the few. The global banking system is an adventure playground for the participants, complete with spongy, health-and-safety approved flooring so that they bounce when they fall off. The role of the rest of us is simply to pay.
Moore ends by saying that the Left’s blind faith in statism makes their remedies “worse than useless.” But it doesn’t make their diagnosis wrong.