Business and financeButtonwood's notebook

You can’t be both a populist and a free-market conservative

IT WOULD be hard to find two more different characters than Theresa May and Donald Trump; the former a suburban vicar’s daughter, the latter a brash reality TV star. But they face similar problems—how to keep both the markets and their supporters satisfied.

For Mrs May, the problem is her dissonant rhetoric. On the one hand, she has used what was once known as “one nation” Tory rhetoric, arguing against the worst excesses of capitalism and the need to help those who are “just about managing”. So here she is in her Davos speech saying of her new approach that 

It means businesses paying their fair share of tax, recognising their obligations and duties to their employees and supply chains, and trading in the right way;
Companies genuinely investing in—and becoming part of—the communities and nations in which they operate, and abiding by the responsibilities that implies;
And all of us taking steps towards addressing executive pay and accountability to shareholders.

In practice, however, she has already retreated from a proposal to put workers on boards, plans to push ahead with…Continue reading

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