Alas I did not hear Jeremy Vine’s show on Radio 2 today, but David Cameron appeared on the programme and made some comments which would appear to be of some significance.

He called for businesses to act more responsibly in what he called "a more ethical capitalism" where business is not just about making money.

Here are the key excerpts of what he had to say, as reported by the Press Association:

"We need a more ethical capitalism. I
don’t think the answer to the current crisis is to tear up the market
system and go back to 1970s-style socialism, but we do need a more
ethical capitalism in which we recognise that business has real
responsibilities. Business is not just about making money. It is
also about acting in an ethical way and I think we need to build a more
ethical capitalism in Britain as we come out of this dreadful

He reiterated his commitment to the environment and quality of life issues in these tough times:

"As we build our economy
for the future, I hope that we can build into that economy a better
balance and we make sure that quality of life issues do matter. I think that’s one of the things we have got to learn from
the last few years. I think it would be a crying shame if
because economic times are tough we threw the issue of the environment
out of the window."

Meanwhile, he also stood by his commitment to support marriage:

"We need to do more to help families
and support marriage and commitment and make sure that everyone builds
a society where we are responsible for the children we have and for
bringing them up. That is a social policy, but it has also got
huge impacts on our economy. If we don’t help couples stay together, if
we don’t build strong families, then what we get is family breakdown,
which has huge costs."

He repeated his call for a loan guarantee scheme:

"The real problem is that the banks aren’t lending. In
order to to stop this credit crunch destroying tens of thousands of
good small businesses, the government needs to act to ensure lending. Otherwise,
the people paying the consequences for Labour’s debt crisis will be
very good small, medium and often large businesses, which are doing OK
– they may be having a difficult time and laying people off but they
shouldn’t be going bust. They are going bust because the banks won’t

And Tory leader concluded:

"This is Labour’s debt crisis, yet their solution seems
to be even more debt. What we will be arguing for in the new year is to
try to make sure we can build a more balanced economy. We
need to encourage saving, rather than just borrowing. We need a greener
economy, a more balanced economy, more manufacturing and not just

It is his call for a "more ethical capitalism" which will attract the most attention.  Margaret Thatcher’s oft-misquoted statement that there was "no such thing as society" was endlessly used by political opponents to caricature Conservatism and capitalism as heartless and uncaring (even though the words were always taken out of context).

David Cameron – very much on the advice of Steve Hilton, I would imagine – is clearly trying to establish himself as a "Caring Capitalist".

Update: As has been pointed out in the comments below, Mr Cameron also made a scathing attack on Gordon Brown’s VAT cut.

Jonathan Isaby