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So, what went wrong? This summer, there has been much soul-searching from Conservatives on why they recently failed to win the decisive parliamentary majority almost everyone predicted.

Two clear points stand out. First, the substantial polling lead the Conservatives initially had over Labour narrowed during the election campaign. Second, there was a considerable shift in voting intention to the Labour Party after the launch of the manifestos.

Some Tories now claim that it is because the public are tiring of austerity. This is no doubt true among a small proportion of voters, particularly among some public-sector workers who have experienced pay constraint over a number of years. But it is, frankly, absurd to think there was such a shift in public opinion against fiscal discipline in the space of six weeks. And it is perfectly possible to better support those on modest incomes at the same time as eliminating the structural deficit.

Anyway, this theory, among others, distracts from the unfortunate and brutal truth: the public were increasingly exposed to the poor leadership and communication skills of Theresa May during the campaign. The manifesto, though rich on philosophy and principles, lacked clear and concrete policies, in contrast to Corbyn’s. The manifesto was emblematic, in fact, of May’s first year in charge: rousing rhetoric in set speeches, but a lack of any substantial policies to truly tackle ‘burning injustices’ and support those ‘just about managing’. Well, people are not daft: actions speak louder than words.

The flagship policy in the manifesto on social care – to lift the guaranteed amount someone could pass on to their children to £100,000, but to include within the means-test calculation for domiciliary care the value of the family home, as is currently the case for residential care – was sensible, but was received particularly badly. The closed clique controlling government failed to build a significant network of individuals and organisations who could shape and support this policy – and, in fact, May’s programme in general. Cabinet Ministers, for example, have not been allowed the freedom and profile to develop distinctive policy agendas, in marked contrast to those under Cameron’s premiership.

What May and her coterie did do, right, however, was to emphasise that conservatism prioritises responsibility not just freedom – of both individuals and businesses. This is a social market rather than free market vision, based originally on the ordoliberalism of post-war Germany, which advocates that a market-based society needs strong morals and rules – even government intervention – if is to work equitably and efficiently. Hence the Prime Minister’s welcome targeting of vested interests and corporate greed, with calls for workers’ voices on company boards and greater transparency around the recruitment and pay of different social groups.

If capitalism is to remain popular and effective, then individuals and corporates do need to behave more responsibly. Markets are motored by – and have consequences for – human beings, not just profit; that needs to be appreciated and acted upon by more people. Conservatives should not abandon May’s ‘responsible capitalism’ agenda, therefore. Equally, though, Conservatives need to be much more responsible in how they talk about capitalism.

Some on the Left, especially under Corbyn, have pushed a simple, spellbinding narrative about Britain’s economic model in recent years: that free-market fundamentalism has been pursued by the Tory Government, and only an elite – the so-called 1% – have benefitted from this. Too many on the Right are now swallowing and adopting this story. You can find it in the words of Theresa May and her previous advisers.

It is simply untrue that Tory administrations before the current one only offered the public free-market fundamentalism. Under Cameron, for example, the Conservatives increased the minimum wage; committed to real-terms increases in NHS spending; introduced a cap on the cost of payday loans; and announced a sugar tax on fizzy drinks from 2018: these are not the policies of a libertarian government.

And if conservatives are unable to argue that capitalism benefits most people, then they might as well pack their bags now and go home. Of course it has and does. There is unprecedented access to travel and technology. Rates of education, employment and entrepreneurship are at record levels. According to the Office for National Statistics survey of personal well-being, most the British public – even in less affluent areas – are generally satisfied with their lives.

Conservatives should reject, not indulge, the attacks on liberal and democratic capitalism. The Party’s leadership needs to be confident and compelling champions of liberal values and economics, especially if they are to inspire younger people, who just voted decisively against the Tories. Indeed, the recent election campaign and manifesto did not do enough to celebrate some of the real economic successes achieved under the Conservative Governments since 2010. It was foolish not to play the Tory trump cards: economic competence and fiscal stewardship.

This is a call for a sense of perspective, not complacency. There are still too many people, as the Prime Minister has passionately articulated, who are struggling in our capitalist society. And all of us, to differing degrees, face day-today challenges where a little more help from government would be welcome. This is what the Tories should focus on now: not petty philosophical debate, but on devising and delivering sensible policies to improve lives. Practical help from the Conservative Party – not a new name, vision or philosophy – is what will win them the next election.

The Conservative Party needs to argue for – and build – a responsible capitalism. But it also need to be more responsible in how it describes the reality of living in this capitalist country.

Ryan Shorthouse is the Director of Bright Blue. This is an article from Bright Blue’s latest magazine ‘Capitalism in crisis?