Is It Now Time To Licence Politicians . . . And More? (1 of 2)

My 30 year career in the financial services industry was at a time when it was largely unregulated and where unqualified individuals could make a substantial living. Be they a ‘butcher, baker or candlestick maker’ it was simplicity itself to change direction and put up a sign declaring ‘Independent Mortgage, Pensions and Investment Advice’.

Lack of regulation led to abuse, sometimes of huge proportions. This was particularly so when Thatcher sold off councils housing stock at knock down prices and mortgages were arranged “on the condition that an expensive and often inappropriate Life policy was taken out to get the money”. We also saw large scale abuses when the Pensions “Opt Out” occurred and people were mis-sold private pensions in droves, earning fortunes in commission for the advisor’s.

Eventually the industry began to clean up its act. Advisor’s had to become licensed by establishing they were knowledgeable about the advice they were giving. The huge upfront commissions paid by insurance companies to advisor’s was ended and they had to charge fees to clients for their advice.

Greater regulation has resulted in greater accountability because the client is now paying the wages! It has also seen a growth in trust and confidence as these services now function more in line with other professions, such as accountants and solicitors.

I can’t help feeling that this is the direction we should now be pursuing with our democratic process, where trust by the people is possibly lower now than it ever was with financial advisor’s. The ease with which anyone can put themselves up for election promotes freedom of expression, granted. But I just wonder, like the previous unregulated financial advice environment, how much understanding there is by candidates about fundamentals? How our money supply works, the effect of long term corporate funding upon the democratic process, the need for integrity and accountability in the management and use of public funds spring immediately to mind.

Certainly the scandals of recent years suggest this understanding ranges from limited to irresponsible.

Let’s take just two examples. Firstly, there is support for the now notorious TTIP, which seeks to place power with the corporate world to decide which political policies are implemented. The important decisions about Societies needs will depend solely on whether they pose a threat to corporate profits, or not.

Secondly we have the EU, where political power is gradually being devolved to Brussels, the ‘Granddaddy of all bureaucratic rice puddings’. Here, with now decades of experience in its workings, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that, through its sheer size, voters have slowly but surely been removed from the decision making process.

I am indebted to my fellow tweeter Sheena who made me aware of this 9 minute YouTube clip. Its central character is a senior police officer who, in the course of his duties, came across official documents that allude to potential treason committed by Prime Minister Edward Heath when he took us into the then ‘Common Market’ in the 70’s. I cannot vouch for the validity of the content but the devolution of power from the UK to Brussels that has taken place is endorsing his words as an alarmingly accurate prophesy.

With just these two examples, it seems as though politicians are working incredibly hard to put themselves out of a job? DUH! Or, is it that they will be paid by corporate lords and masters, as well as funded from Brussels perhaps, with little or no political responsibilities in future. Just rubber stamp legislation that has become heavily biased in favour of vested interest and seemingly no accountability to those who elected them.

(As an aside, in no way do I believe David Cameron is looking to take us out of the EU. Current cleverly worded headlines with no substance – when aren’t they – are designed to combat the UKIP threat and will be reversed if he returns to No 10. This also begs the question as to the validity of his 2017 EU Referendum promise, but I digress!)

All I do know is that I am extremely uncomfortable with all that is going on and the continued erosion of the political process as it affects our democratic rights. I have tried to lay out here the reasons for my concerns and tomorrow I will offer my thinking on why I believe the medicine meted out to the financial services industry needs to be topped up and applied liberally to our democratic process.


Until the next time


Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It!           By J T Coombes