There appears to be an "Oxbridge consensus" demonstrated by successive UK governments

This approach is characterised by an uncompromising laissez-faire approach in some policy areas (migration, trade), while interventionism is pursued in others (entitlements, housing, agriculture, philanthropy etc).

Neoliberalism, as far as I can tell only covers the first half of this.

Does it have a name?

Also, isn't this approach intellectually inconsistent?

  • 3
    I think you should provide some evidence for the second part of this "approach" being implemented, and maybe some link to statements about the first part.
    – Evargalo
    Aug 22, 2017 at 9:46
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    You could be talking about Social market economy. Does that Wikipedia article sound about right? You could also be talking about social liberalism.
    – Philipp
    Aug 22, 2017 at 11:08
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    All successful political approaches are intellectually inconsistent. This is because democracy favors popularity over intellect or consistency. Also, there is often some prism through which two positions are inconsistent.
    – Brythan
    Aug 22, 2017 at 13:40
  • @Brythan Successful political approaches are inconsistent even outside democratic countries. Politician do something, and in order for it to be accepted, they give something else.
    – Distic
    Aug 22, 2017 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


This direction might be referred to as Social Market Economy.

This system encourages free markets and private business ownership. But this system also uses laws and regulations to ensure that the competition on the markets is fair and that no company can abuse a dominant market position to the disadvantage of employees and/or consumers. Among these are anti-trust regulations, consumer protection laws and labor rights. The government also provides welfare to those who are otherwise unable to make a proper income in this system.

  • Thank you. Is the adopted laissez-faire approach to migration and trade a recognition that the system is too complex to reason about to ensure any given intervention avoids negative externalities/market inefficiencies? If so, is interventionism elsewhere justified on the basis that those parts of the system are less complex or somehow firewalled from the rest?
    – 52d6c6af
    Aug 22, 2017 at 14:15
  • @Ben Free trade is part of a free market, so social market economies usually encourage it. Immigration is an orthogonal concept, though. Social market economies are often prime immigration targets because they offer great economic opportunities with little personal risk, but how many and which immigrants to accept is usually a matter of debate.
    – Philipp
    Aug 22, 2017 at 14:22
  • OK thank you. I suppose I am trying to understand how within the same philosophy someone can acknowledge that interventionism is usually undesirable in one or two important areas, while at the same time undertaking large-scale interventionist measures elsewhere (eg. in the "social justice" sphere, per your linked article). I might envisage an answer being: "people are ultimately driven not by outcomes (which non-interventionism might optimise) but by appearances (eg. being seen to give money to the poor)". I wonder if rigorous analysis can be performed in this area.
    – 52d6c6af
    Aug 22, 2017 at 14:34
  • @Ben Social Market Economy is entirely driven by outcome, and that outcome is a strong economy which provides for everyone (and not just the elite) without the oppressive nature of pure socialism. But maybe SME is not what you meant after all.
    – Philipp
    Aug 22, 2017 at 14:41

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