Capitalism today is firmly in the hands of the few, not the many. Yet, Mrs Thatcher once preached capitalism as a “crusade to enfranchise the many in the economic life of the nation” and return “power to the people”. Her sentiments of the decentralisation of power to workers and ordinary citizens during the 1986 Conservative party conference almost seem to echo the rhetoric of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who advocate services run by the people and for the people with the power of workers at their core.

For all their common goals, these two opposing factions have radically different solutions to achieve their goals. Where Corbyn seeks to renationalise core industries like energy and water, Thatcher proclaimed the virtues of ‘popular capitalism’ – a type of capitalism whereby everyone can become a shareholder, a property owner and a beneficiary.

Under her leadership, the early days of popular capitalism were a huge success. By the end of the 1980s, one quarter of the population could call themselves shareholders, with around 2.1 million investors in BT during its privatisation and around 4 million people applied for shares in British Gas. Thatcher’s achievements here were nothing short of revolutionary – she managed to intrinsically link the health of the economy with the vested interested of the many and allowed them to benefit from the economic recovery she precipitated. No longer was the economy an abstract construct to ordinary Britons. She also opened up council houses to be purchased by their tenants, giving people the capital they needed to thrive in a capitalist society. However, the Thatcher years were a watershed moment for British capitalism. Within a few years, many of the shares that were in the hands of the public were sold off to wealthy individuals, often for a quick profit. The dream of a property-owning democracy started to die as successive governments failed to build enough social housing to replace those sold off, an act which has pushed prices up and up and contributed to the huge housing crisis we have today whereby home ownership in England is now at a 30-year low.

Today, the capitalist dream seems dead, but Mrs May could have a chance to resurrect it. Although it will be difficult to reclaim capitalism for the many, she wants to see workers represented on company boards, more shares offered to workers, and Sajid Javid (housing minister) has pledged to fix the ‘broken’ housing market by encouraging developers and councils to build at a much faster rate, and provide the affordable housing that David Cameron started to make available with the ‘help to buy’ scheme. However, May’s plans also seem to focus on the rental market, as ministers are making it easier for councils to build large scale social housing developments, which could be sold off in the future to give people the dignity and capital that comes with home ownership.

Capitalism is broken, but Theresa May’s government has a chance to recreate an era of popular capitalism if she wants to. The future of capitalism in this country is at stake.