In the last few weeks, the news has been flooded with reports about fuel shortages. While the worst of it has waned, it has posed fundamental questions about how we function as a society and how we keep Britain moving.
The pandemic certainly saw the return of big government. The state is now a larger part of everyone’s lives than it was. From furlough payments to travel restrictions; government has affected our lives in clear and direct ways.
One of the questions from the last 18 months is whether this level of state intervention works? The answer must be an unequivocal no.
The vaccine roll-out in the UK has been the envy of many other developed nations; the private sector was pivotal in one of the greatest programmes in our lifetimes. Privately-owned pharma companies played a driving role alongside the NHS.
It has shown how important language is to convey the role the private sector plays – and the capital that funds it. How does society re-embrace capitalism as the only truly viable market system in a way that resonates with those who may doubt its intentions?
The furlough system has ended and with it statist control will begin to rescind. It will not be totally back to “business as usual”, however. Those who want a return to the free-market, enterprising, capitalist society we knew up until March 2020 will need to stand up and fight for it.
It will be up to investors, entrepreneurs and businesspeople to lead the narrative about Britain’s return to economic growth. What they say – and importantly how they say it – will be vital to this message being understood and welcomed by people across the United Kingdom.
Currently, the way the public thinks of the free markets is unduly influenced by those who talk about it in terms of pure business. Narratives talk about profits, and even greed. These themes are disconnected from the core benefits of capitalism.
Concepts of capitalism and socialism are both equally as popular as they are polarising, according to our research. Support for capitalism rises much higher than favourability for it. In other words, pragmatism and recognition of its advantages encourages people to support capitalism – even if they don’t like it.
Capitalism is associated with the idea that it’s “good for businesses” but only weakly connected with things that are “good for people” such as jobs and wages. This means there is a missing link between capitalism and its inextricable goal of serving customers in the best possible way, as well as the long-term effect of improving standards of living and social mobility.
The arguments made in defence of capitalism rely on the premise that “the system is good for businesses and therefore it’s good for people,” have done well to improve the relationship between a free market and businesses. But it has failed to prove the benefits to people.
We need to advocate for capitalism and begin to repair that broken connection. In doing so we will forge a stronger belief in capitalism’s ability to help people.
The shortages have shown how messaging can change the narrative. Those fighting for the free market need to take heed of this and make the best case for a capitalism which benefits people’s real lives.