Sounding like David Cameron...

I was in a meeting with a well-known social entrepreneur today who was most disturbed when somebody said he sounded like David Cameron. Are we turning Tory? Or have they finally worked out, in the aftermath of the financial world collapse, that business models based on greed and exploitation really don't work?

Here's what I think is happening...

The historic alliance of Big Business and Conservative Counties has collapsed. Globalisation with its reduction of market town high streets to bland uniformity and replacement of human contact with automated switchboards is no more acceptable to Middle England than it's ability to move production to China is to Trade Unionists.

It's obvious to all now that unfettered competition doesn't lead to real diversity and choice – to the local and individualistic and quirky - but to the illusory choice of colourful wrappers around international monoculture and financial institutions too big to fail.

We may have different views on where to put windfarms, but we can all see that using more and more energy on making more and more stuff we don't really need, spending more on advertising them than making them in the first place, and transporting them half-way round the world, is just plain crazy.

Talk to the conservative stalwart of the village hall committee, or the labour councillor on the local development trust (who are now by the way often working for much the same things in much the same ways) and they'll agree on this at least. They may focus on the distant anonymity of the public sector, or the remote facelessness of multinational corporations, but the urgent need to protect the environment, and our felt need to get back to real human relationships, insist that we reassert local values and local control, reconnect local producers with local markets, and develop institutional frameworks that don't leave us helpless in the face of either the bureaucrats or global 'market forces' – whether we want to stop another out of town supermarket or have room in our communities and our hearts for those whose faces don't quite fit into the glossy magazine images.

But does this imply agreement about social enterprise? I think it does, because social enterprise is precisely about rejecting business models based on greed and exploitation, which led us not only to financial meltdown but to the more insidious cultural disaster of the bland and the multinational and the corporate. Instead social enterprise works with business models that involve communities, put people before profits, root enterprise in shared values, celebrate alternative lifestyles, and respect the local and the individualistic and the quirky.