Cameron: There is more to life than money

David Cameron rejects the money-orientated way of life
David Cameron rejects the money-orientated way of life

Conservative leader David Cameron today made a clean break with Thatcherism by insisting there was "more to life than money".

He said politicians should concern themselves with "what makes people happy, as well as what makes stock markets rise", adding that this was the "central challenge of our times".

In a speech to a conference organised by Google, the internet search engine provider, Mr Cameron called for a new measure to assess people's general well-being, or GWB, similar to gross domestic product (GDP), which analyses a country's economic activity.

"Wealth is about so much more than pounds or dollars or euros. It's time we admitted there's more to life than money, and time we focused not just on GDP but GWB," he said.

"This can't be measured in money or traded in markets, and it can't be delivered by law or enforced by government. It is about many things - the quality of culture and above all the strength of our relationships.

"Improving our GWP in society is, I believe, the central challenge of our times."

He cited economist John Maynard Keynes' prediction in the 1930s that once society had established how to increase standards of living year on year, the real problem was "how to occupy the leisure time which science and compound interest will have created".

"I'm not pretending for a second that everything in the economic garden is rosy and we can sit back and take that for granted - poverty still disfigures many communities," Mr Cameron said.

But he insisted that the pursuit of wealth "is no longer, if it ever was, enough to meet people's deepest hopes and aspirations", adding: "The spirit of our age demands social values as well as economic values."

This morning's speech is the latest effort by Mr Cameron to prove that the Conservatives have changed under his leadership into a "modern, compassionate" party that the electorate might vote in at the next general election.

A key part of this transformation has been distancing himself from Mrs Thatcher's infamous statement that there is "no such thing as society". Mr Cameron's version of this is that there "is such thing as society, it is just not the same as the state".

He has also made clear he wants to "stand up to big business" - although this approach has caused tension with business leaders, particularly when he singled out BHS for selling sexy underwear for eight-year-olds, and WHSmith for selling chocolate oranges.


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