7 January 2024

Weekly briefing: CapX at 10


This promises to be a year of progress and appreciation for a proud record of achievement. Not for the government, of course, which is facing a general election from around 20 points behind in the polls and with perishingly little to show for the last 14 years. But for CapX and the Centre for Policy Studies, which are celebrating their 10th and 50th anniversaries respectively.

The CPS was founded by Margaret Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph in 1974, amid the political wreckage of the three-day week, two general elections and a state of emergency in Northern Ireland. It was born out of a profound sense of disillusionment with the post-war consensus, or as Joseph put it in his Upminster speech that year, ‘30 years of Socialistic fashion… 30 years of interventions; 30 years of good intentions; 30 years of disappointment.’

Joseph was explicit in his foreword for the first ever CPS report, republished on CapX this week, that communication, and seeking to change the climate of opinion, would be central to its mission. That has always been CapX’s mission too.

The 40 years following the publication of ‘Why Britain needs a social market economy’ saw the country change fundamentally and in many ways for the better – but the success of the Thatcher revolution did not make the public axiomatically more receptive to free market ideas. In fact, by 2014, they were deeply unfashionable. As CapX’s first Editor, Iain Martin, wrote, ‘Since the financial crisis, and assorted other setbacks which amount to a crisis of the elites in Western Europe, the view that markets and competition serve only a small number at the top has become widespread.’ That, along with a changing media landscape and an instinct that Conservatives in coalition needed to remember their intellectual roots, led to the conception of this site.

Early articles often had a defiant, anti-establishment tone – with titles like ‘Popular capitalism, Now! and ‘Is the Pope a capitalist?’. CapX was one of the few places readers could find serious analysis of the economic consequences of Brexit during the referendum campaign. Over the past ten years we have published 10,000 articles from authors including Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul, Arthur Laffer, and Lord Frost to name a few. We have also nurtured new talent, with the New Statesman’s Rachel Cunliffe, GB News’ Olivia Utley, and Special Advisor to the Chancellor Adam Memon all early contributors – not to mention former Editor Robert Colvile.  

Now, in 2024, we are at another inflection point. Keir Starmer may talk about growth and decentralisation, he may even occasionally invoke the Iron Lady, but almost every policy Labour sets out points in the opposite direction. From children starting school at one, to a nationalised energy company – the likely next government’s reflexive solution to any problem is yet more intervention in our personal and economic lives.

As Thatcher warned, ‘When the state does everything for you, it will soon take everything from you’. So if you believe in freedom, then keep reading, sharing and supporting CapX – for the next ten years, and beyond.

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Alys Denby is Editor of CapX.