Conservative leadership candidate David Cameron yesterday warned of a "growing cultural hostility to capitalism".
Speaking to the CBI conference, he said when in 1970, MORI had asked the public whether the profits of large companies helped make things better for everyone who bought their products and services the public had agreed by a majority of two to one.
Three decades later, when asked the same question, the public - by two- to- one -disagreed.
He warned: "For too many people, profit and free trade are dirty words.
"The consequence has been a massive rise in risk aversion, a willingness to concede power to the state to try and take risks out of life.
"Health risks. Safety risks. Inequality risks. Security risks. Environmental risks. An ever-increasing burden of regulation."
It was costing Britain's economy an estimated £40 billion a year, resulting in soaring bureaucracy and a fall down the world competitiveness rankings. He warned: "Promoting wealth creation means changing the climate of opinion so that politicians and bureaucrats who argue for measures that damage competitiveness are less likely to succeed.
"In short, we need to campaign for capitalism."
Mr Cameron called for more spending on roads - a big issue in the West Midlands. He cautioned: "A world class economy must be able to move people and goods around efficiently and reliably.
"Yet Britain has the most congested roads in Europe. Our journeys to work take the longest.
"Britain now needs a concerted programme of road building, accompanied by the introduction of advanced traffic management methods, including new solutions for road charging based on usage and the time of day."
Mr Cameron attacked Chancellor Gordon Brown's record on the economy accusing him of fiscall irresponsibility.
It was tax and spend, higher public spending and higher public borrowing.
And it was a theme his rival David Davis took up in his address to the country's top business leaders.
The overall tax burden in the UK was now at its highest level for 25 years, with the average family paying £5,000 a year more in Labour's stealth taxes than in 1997.
The CBI's figures showed business taxes would be £54 billion higher by next April than they were in 1997.
The cost to business of additional regulations introduced since 1997 now stood at £40 billion, and national debt was also spiralling out of control.
He charged: "Enron-style accounting has become the order of the day in the Treasury. Take Network Rail and its debts of £20 billion. They have been moved off the national balance sheet despite the fact that the only guarantor of this huge liability is the poor old taxpayer."
Productivity growth had fallen by a third since 1997 and a million jobs had been lost in manufacturing.
The balance of trade - a deficit of £40 billion in 2004 - was the worst since the 17th Century.
He cautioned: "We simply cannot go on running the economy this way: taxing more, spending more, borrowing more, while slowly throttling the spirit of enterprise and innovation on which the country's prosperity and its vital public services depend."
And he pledged: " My approach would still allow for higher spending on schools and hospitals. But it would also return money to the taxpayer - the business taxpayer and the personal taxpayer alike. By the end of the first term of a Conservative government under my leadership, taxes would be cut by £38 billion a year."
Both Mr Cameron and Mr Davis united to attack the Government's "double whammy" on pensions.
A deal allowing existing civil servants to retire at 60 has been condemned by the CBI. It comes ahead of the Turner Pensions Review, which is expected to propose raising the state pension age to 67.
Speaking at the CBI's annual conference in north London, Mr Cameron and Mr Davis agreed the deal was unfair.