David Cameron’s Big Society: State Capitalism

Simon Heffer is one of the ever-dwindling number of journalists who really understand the difference between Corporatism (sometimes called State Capitalism) and genuine free markets. In The Telegraph of 26th October, he asks: “How taken in are they [the middle classes] by the Prime Minister’s promises, made to the CBI, of new infrastructure projects to make the country operate more smoothly, which sounded uncomfortably like the corporatism of the 1960s and 1970s, and made him sound like Ted Heath?”

The trouble is that, certainly on corporatism and free markets, he is like Ted Heath1. I would go even further and compare him to Tony Benn with his National Enterprise Board – an oxymoron if ever there was one. Inspired, if that is the correct word, by Tony Benn in 1974, it was to take government stakes in, and greater control over, major manufacturing industries, hence boosting their performance. In fact after its formation in 1975, its major contribution was to support failing companies which continued to fail.

Governments are notoriously bad at ‘picking winners’2. Yet here is our Prime Minister, allegedly a Conservative, telling the CBI that we have “got to back the big businesses of tomorrow, not just the big businesses of today”. If that isn’t State Capitalism, I don’t know what is. Tony Benn couldn’t have put it better.

1 Some examples of Ted Heath’s many idiotic utterances of the time were given in my book Crap: A plain man’s guide to British Politics

See D.R.Myddelton, They Meant Well, Institute of Economic Affairs, 2007

5 thoughts on “David Cameron’s Big Society: State Capitalism”

  1. Posted 03/11/2010 at 17:16 | Permalink

    Delorean is a good example of how the state cannot get industry right.
    Never could ,never will.
    They’d be much better removing the tax burdens and restrictive red tape millstone that business drags here.

  2. Posted 03/11/2010 at 18:10 | Permalink

    One of my conclusions, from ‘They Meant Well’, which looked at half a dozen government project disasters, is that governments simply do not understand markets where consumers are free to choose.

    They pretend to see twenty or thirty years ahead, but they cannot (any more than most people can).

    As the preacher says in Ecclesiastes 9, 11: ‘Time and chance happeneth to them all.’

    It is, as Hayek titled his Nobel prize lecture, ‘The Pretence of Knowledge’.

  3. Posted 04/11/2010 at 00:00 | Permalink

    Then there was that regional investment fund set up by the last government that managed to turn a pot of something of the order of £70m into a fraction of itself inside a year. Reported at around the time of the last budget. Can’t find it now.

  4. Posted 04/11/2010 at 00:41 | Permalink

    Huzzah for Simon Heffer!!

  5. Posted 05/11/2010 at 21:21 | Permalink

    I wrote about corporatism recently on my website.

    It all started to go down hill when Corporations became protected under the Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment as “Natural Born Citizens” this gives them the right the petition the government and all other rights of an individual citizen.

    It was not always like this, i go into much more detail in my article here:http://www.upfordebate.us/story.php?title=corporate-america-the-real-enemy-of-the-state-1

    I take an early look at the history of corporations in America and give a few different examples from the modern era. I thought you might want to take a look at this. Thanks for the good read.

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