The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne
, launched the Legatum Institute’s ‘Prosperity for All
’ manifesto, written by Senior Fellow Tim Montgomerie
Speaking at the Institute, before an audience of policy-makers, business people and journalists, the Chancellor praised Montgomerie’s report on ‘the state of capitalism’ for its honesty and insight. He outlined the ways that Government has been supporting the best of free trade by introducing the Living Wage and investing in the Northern Powerhouse scheme. The Chancellor echoed the message of ‘Prosperity for All’: capitalists need to sell their system better.
In launching his 40,000 word report, Montgomerie took the opportunity to outline some of its findings and recommendations. The polls he commissioned from YouGov to conduct across seven nations showed a remarkable pessimism about the free market—especially among North Americans.
Montgomerie pointed out that while millions more, the world over, were now enjoying higher wages, better health and education, longer life spans, and a chance to prosper, when asked if capitalism was working for them, a majority believed it was not. Believers in the free market therefore faced a huge challenge, Montgomerie argued, in changing public perception. One way to resolve this, he said, would be to emphasise the need for fairness: people should see that ‘crony capitalism’ would not flourish, and that even the rich faced ‘snakes as well as ladders’; taxpayers funding the bail out of big banks, for instance, sent the wrong message. But capitalism could not be saved by economic measures alone: social and political considerations had to be taken into account. Montgomerie listed some of these: compulsory voting, more investment in infrastructure and in particular housing, and support for the family.
The ‘Prosperity for All’ agenda has taken shape over the past six months. The project has convened leaders of the Anglosphere, whose shared heritage of common law and parliamentary democracy provide a firm foundation to discuss proposals for reforming the free market. Prosperity for All builds on the substantial body of work already produced by the Legatum Institute. The insights at the heart of the annual Legatum Prosperity Index are central to the vision. Prosperity does not just depend upon economic freedom and entrepreneurship—as important as they may be. It also depends upon nation’s education systems, upon the quality of healthcare, on safety and security.
Over the next ten days, Montgomerie will publish a series of chapters that unpick how capitalism has come to attract such negative public reaction, and what governments must do to prove to citizens that capitalism really can bring prosperity for all.
Montgomerie's research includes exclusive polling data that tests attitudes towards capitalism, free markets and the role of the state.