Archives for posts with tag: Ed Miliband

Well it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog but frankly it’s 12:15 in the evening, I’ve been ill in bed for 3 days and I’m totally bored.  Anyway a few minutes ago I stumbled onto this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oamGnLC6FYY&feature=youtu.be

Ed Miliband’s new wheeze about banking reforms.  Personally I’m not immune at all to the argument that banking needs reform, it absolutely does.  Not only that but most of my clients (CEO’s and Chairman of banks!) can see there’s a need for reform.  Ed is talking about needing new banks and he’s absolutely right, we do.  Not only do politicians and people see it but so do the City, I won’t go into details but there are lots of people I know trying to make this a reality, market pressures will force it to happen.  Where I start to disagree with Ed is how this should happen.

Frankly the last time a politician has been let loose with a bank it was the Reverend Flowers (also Labour) and look where that got us.  I’m sorry but senior politicians of all hues are simply not up to the task of banking reform.  Firstly they’re all as I’ve said before PPE graduate career politicians with no real world experience whatsoever, I wouldn’t trust half of them to run a raffle let alone a major business or reform of the countries largest industry.  Yes of course the bankers have made a shambles of this but that doesn’t mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Banking and financial services in general make up a HUGE proportion of our economy, if you meddle too much then you risk killing the golden goose.  To all the naysayers who will of course pipe up and say well we don’t need all those rich bankers etc please also spare a thought for the millions of others employed either directly or because of the financial services industry in this country.  I don’t think the cashiers at your local Barclays are your enemy.  Financial services is global, if you change the rules to make things too harsh it’s all too easy for them to relocate elsewhere and frankly with loose regulation and lower taxes elsewhere why wouldn’t you?  

The reform has to be done cautiously, by people who understand the banking world and have no axe to grind.  There are plenty of senior bankers out there who are not looking to profit from the sector anymore but have huge knowledge of global financial markets that we can tap to make judicious reform without cutting our nose off to spite our face.  Sir Win Bischoff for instance would make a great elder statesman to do this (yes I’m aware he is now chairing the FRC)

We have great expertise in this country, it’s a sector we excel in, let’s use that knowledge and tap into it.  Let’s not seek revenge for the catastrophe of the past that can only end in future hurt, let’s make sure we build a sustainable model for the future and in doing so retain the City’s position as the biggest financial services centre on the planet. 

 

(Also as an aside, I’m not sure promoting easy credit, whether to businesses or to people is the best idea, it is what got us into this mess in the first place!  Yes start ups need funds but often that’s better left to private equity than banks, they’re gambling with their own capital and can take greater risks.  I’m rather pleased the banks are being risk averse for a change! Although I’m sure in the next breath Ed can still mention casino banking…)

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I’m hopefully going to stay away from being too political here, I do have clients who may read this after all and I don’t really want to dissuade anyone from using my services because of any political leanings I may have!  However one thing I have noticed recently is the constant barb that people are ‘out of touch’.  Usually it’s aimed at David Cameron/George Osborne but to be honest you could apply it across party lines to most of the major front bench MP’s on both sides. 

For me there are two major issues here and it seems to me nobody is really talking about them and there are no major moves to address them.  Firstly there’s the issue of education, all three leaders are the product of Oxford/Cambridge educations and I’m sure all are terribly bright chaps.  Cameron and Clegg however are ex public school which seems to almost be a sin judging by the amount of time the press spends on this issue.  Now I have to confess at this stage that I too am the product of private education so please feel free to take this with a pinch of salt but it strikes me that there’s becoming a stigma attached to being well educated.  You did Latin at school?  Well in that case you’re an anachronism, you are so out of touch with ‘real people’ and their concerns that you may as well live in a sealed bubble.  I’m sorry but when did being educated become a bad thing?  Surely we want the brightest and best people running both the country and our great institutions?  I’m not arguing here for public school boys to run everything in sight more that this should be far less of an issue than it currently is.  The biggest jobs should be taken by a person on merit, on their achievements not because of what school they did or indeed did not go to, anything else is just misguided social engineering and we become in danger of missing out on the best people purely based on some kind of prejudice.  Again I’m trying to be careful not to get too idiotic about this, clearly public school boys are not a disadvantaged class that needs fighting for but they certainly aren’t the villains of the piece either.  If we want to replace the class system with a meritocracy then let’s stop being so fixated on people’s backgrounds and let’s spend a bit more time judging them on what they’ve done more recently.

The second thing and one which concerns me far more is the lack of real world experience from all sides.  What I mean by real world experience isn’t that I expect our MP’s to have done some minimum wage work for a large chunk of time or that they must have spent time living on low income, more that we seem to be developing a generation of career politicians.  At one point it wasn’t unusual for people to have had a career before politics, take say Ken Clarke as an example (a QC) or Michael Heseltine (a self made millionaire and businessman).  Now it’s much more likely you read PPE at Oxbridge (Cameron and Miliband), go on to be a researcher for your chosen party and rise through the ranks.  I’m sure they are very knowledgeable about a vast array of topics but the lack of knowledge of how business works or indeed how anything works outside the Westminster bubble worries me.  It’s not just an issue on the right either at one stage senior Labour figures would be ex union firebrands with ideals and a passion to change the system.  We now seem to be heading towards a much more homogenised political system where the differences between the parties are much more shades of grey that any stark ideological choices for the electorate.  The problem is in the end you get the same result, a class of career politician with little original thought to differentiate them, with the possible exception of Boris Johnson, where are the characters?  Where are the people with real conviction and zeal to change Britain for the better?  I’d love to see someone emerge who the country could really get behind but as things stand I really can’t see where that person would come from, on either side, which is a great shame for British politics.