This morning George Osborne announced that the Tories are in favour of directly intervening in the lending market, telling the Today programme:
“People who believe in the free market like myself want that free market to be properly regulated… We need to make sure we fix all parts of the banking and financial system, and payday lending is part of it…We are stepping in where government needs to step in to create the rules of the market.”
The Chancellor explicitly stated: “I don’t accept it’s a departure from any philosophy – we want markets that work for people.” Which is a change of tune from last month, when Professor Osborne gave Ed Miliband an economics lecture at Tory conference:
“For him the global free market equates to a race to the bottom with the gains being shared among a smaller and smaller group of people. That is essentially the argument Karl Marx made in Das Kapital. It is what socialists have always believed. But the irony is this: It is socialism that always brings it about. And it is the historic work of this Party to put that right. Because attempts to fix prices and confiscate wealth crush endeavour and blunt aspiration.”
That’s right, according to Osborne: “attempts to fix prices… crush endeavour and blunt aspiration”.
Dave also had strong words for anyone wanting to intervene in markets, claiming at PMQs that he “will leave the Communist plot” to Miliband:
“Is freezing energy prices a good idea or a Communist plot? I know you want to live in some sort of Marxist universe where you can control these things but you need a basic lesson in economics.”
There is zero intellectual coherency between this lending cap policy and the Tory reaction to Ed’s pie in the sky price freeze.
We are all communists now.