Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Chancellor and right-hand-man, John McDonnell, famously listed “generally fomenting the overthrow of capitalism” as among his interests – and if a new poll is to be believed, the British public might just be with him.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by the Legatum Institute think-tank, almost two thirds of Britons believe capitalism makes inequality worse, while three quarters think big business is corrupt and bad for the environment.
Such views are not limited to the UK, either. Across all seven nations included in the survey, substantial majorities agreed that the poor get poorer in capitalist economies.
Even in the US, the historic champion of capitalism over communism, 55 per cent of those asked agreed that the system was bad for equality.
People think capitalism is bad for equality...
And a report for Legatum said negativity about capitalism was in fact most pronounced in America than in any other country surveyed, “with deep pessimism about the future combining with suspicion about big businesses’ ethics and strong support for protectionism”.
The findings are part of a major report into the state of capitalism that is due to be launched by the Chancellor, George Osborne, on behalf of Legatum on Wednesday.
... and big business is even worse
And appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics to represent the institute, journalist Tim Montgomerie said the findings showed there was a “terrible PR problem” at the heart of capitalism today.
He said: “I don’t think capitalism has failed in fundamental senses, we’re living through a period where poverty around the world is falling at a historically unprecedented rate.
“But if you ask people particularly in advanced nations whether hunger is rising or poverty is rising, they think it is. Capitalism, while good at advertising soap powder, cars and computers, is very bad at selling itself.”
Mr Montogmerie said that for all its image problems, the surveys did show that capitalism was a “very successful system” for lifting individuals out of poverty.
But he admitted the government had got “too close” to big business, which had contributed to the image of capitalism as unfair or unclean.
“If capitalism is to be seen to be fair, the same rules are to apply to the big guy as to the little guy,” he said.
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