EXCL Minister says Tories have 'lost their way' as party of business

Posted On: 
27th September 2018

A senior minister has warned that the Conservatives must reclaim being known as the “party of business” rather than "talking it down" if they are to beat Labour at the next election.

Sam Gyimah
Credit: 
Paul Heartfield

Sam Gyimah said the financial crash had allowed the "far-left" to enjoy a “field day”, while the vote to leave the EU and the party losing its majority at last year’s election had the Tories “confused”.

Speaking ahead of the party’s conference in Birmingham next week the universities minister - who serves in the Government's Department for Business - said there needed to be a "renaissance" in making the case for capitalism to give the Conservatives "any chance" of defeating Jeremy Corbyn's party.

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"Sometimes we appear to accept criticisms of capitalism at face value and feel the need to respond accordingly – a futile task,” he warned in an article for The House magazine.

"At other times, we seem to want to take on the mantle of Trumpian economic nationalism and protectionism.

"And sometimes we just reach for the old playbook, implying that if we simply deregulate and cut taxes, all will be fine. At other times we try to do a combination of all of the above.

"When we Conservatives veer between talking business down, ignoring voters’ concerns, and telling businesses to shut up – or worse – it is clear sign we have lost our way.

"When it comes to our relationship with business, we must unscramble our compass if we are to stand any chance of defeating the hard left.

"And whichever side you are on in the Brexit debate, we need to realise that if we are not the party of business then we are nothing. So we need to find our way, and quickly."

Mr Gyimah also claimed that Jeremy Corbyn thinks “capitalism’s goose is cooked”, and said the Labour leader “can’t wait to carve up the carcass”.

In a rally cry to the right, he urged thinkers, musicians and artists to "make the case for open markets".

The minister added: "This Labour platform is not simply a return to the 1970s. Some of the plans and policies that Corbyn’s Labour most admire, like forced worker cooperatives, were too crazy even for the 1970s left…

"And yet the hard left has managed to assemble a cast of glitzy ambassadors from Stormzy to the Archbishop of Canterbury – and a grassroots operation, Momentum, to normalise and spread their extreme ideas far and wide."

He continued: "Yes, we need to be honest about the failings of capitalism, while making the case that it’s the best system we’ve got.

"Attacking Labour and proclaiming our sound economic management is necessary but not sufficient.

"We need to make the case for increasing the size of the national cake, to move up the economic league table, so there is more to share. We need to make the case for reinvigorating capitalism!"

'NOSTALGIC NATIONALISM'

Meanwhile his colleague and former policy chief to Theresa May, George Freeman, said the Tories risked becoming "a rump party of nostalgic nationalists".

Writing in the same issue of The House magazine, he said: "Amongst a new generation of voters under 45, both capitalism and our model of liberal democracy are suffering a deep crisis of unpopularity.

"A new generation of aspirational professional voters under 45 are rejecting the old model.

"Unless the Conservative Party reconnects with them, we risk becoming a rump party of nostalgic nationalists."

He urged the feuding Tories to end their "Brexit civil war" and instead frame Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as a "much more inspiring moment of profound national and economic renewal".

"This is not a time for technocratic policy tweaks," he warned. "Breathless government announcements are as out-of-date as New Labour spin and husky-hugging."

"This is a moment of profound national challenge. And opportunity."