I’m all in favour of responsible journalism and informed comment on topics of importance, but too often we are assailed by screeches from the side-lines whilst some of us endeavour to create some wealth. Latest examples of such outbursts, which are starting to sound like something from the French Revolution, are:
• Using the £150bn that the world’s wealthiest earned, to remove global poverty;
• Attacking bankers at HSBC who earned bonuses; and
• Attacking bank bonuses in their entirety.
Why do people engage in these almost hysterical attacks on other groups? Would you screech at the station attendant if the train were late, or assail the tour operator if it rained on your holiday? No (I hope!), because the links between cause and effect are rather more complex:
• I am no fan of super-wealth and count no such people in my circle. But I don’t think that taking money from them, without justification, would cure any ills but simply cause more confusion for everyone. Ask Gerard Depardieu?
• I’m not a banker, but I do run an organisation in which some people do well and others leave because they didn’t do so well. I think it would be just as wrong if I refused to reward the current successful people because their predecessors left a legacy of bad debts;
• As for the cap on bonuses, well…Thankfully in 2007 I resisted siren calls to increase base salaries, and when the downturn came I was able to effect a four day week, and avoid losing any staff, or any goodwill.
I think these revolutionary type mutterings arise out of sheer frustration. As a businessman I see little alternative to the Government acting in “turnaround” mode and waiting for markets to improve (as retail sales did in February).
But “turning the super-tanker” around is about more than turning the wheel – you need to know where you’re heading. So as elected captain of “SS Great Britain”, what David Cameron and his first, second, and third mates could do, but so far have failed to do, is show us where we’re going and why. We need a “course to steer” that will get us out of this choppy sea to a better place. How about this?
• Expand access to justice, by investing in systems and people so that anyone, on payment of a reasonable sum, proportionate to the amount at stake, can get access to justice, civil as well as criminal;
• Re-engineer the process of regulation and law making so that it is built to deal with competition from overseas, prioritising actions that can combat it or ensure a level playing field when engaging with it. We would recruit a whole new cadre of civil servants from business and Civil Society to produce systems and decisions that work, rather than pronouncements from on high that are too late and unworkable;
• Set out new principles for international relations, especially in taxation, immigration and the EU, which ensures that activities taking place in the UK are taxed and regulated in ways that are fair to permanent residents with immigrants earning the right to benefits over time and incoming businesses paying the same taxes as their competitors.
Or to put it another way, “with tidal drift from South East and West, and a Moody sea state, I recommend a Course to Steer of 10 degrees EU, whilst the captain gets his head down and goes for a (U)kip”!
Malcolm (RYA Yachtmaster – Coastal)
If you enjoyed this post by Malcolm Durham, and would like to get in touch, feel free to send e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org – or visit his website: http://fdsolutions.uk.com