FREEDOM… experience

I remember sitting in various stockbrokers, offices during the early 1980’s listening to ‘experienced’, elderly and wise stockbrokers discussing the upcoming ‘Big Bang’ in the City. Many of them were saying that the exchange, the market and the country would rue the day allowing bankers, Tom, Dick and Harry to compete alongside existing old style brokers. Almost to a man they said that stockjobbers should NOT merge with brokers and that external regulation would eventually destroy the market and kill free enterprise.

Now 26 years on we’re almost at the inflection point for this with millions more than just angry with bankers, politicians, anyone in services industries per se and the extraordinary thing is that no-one can see the completely inane and destructive force of REGULATORS and REGULATION. They have brought nothing to the table, cost taxpayers billions of pounds (austerity?), frustrated all aspects of business, especially businesses with small capitalisations and the best part is they are never answerable to their critics for their errors, their failures and are masters in blaming everyone but themselves.

The lessons to be learnt from the experiences (one needs to be a patient sometimes) have allowed me to conclude that REGULATION as envisaged in 1986 and 2000 (when FSMA 2000 replaced FSA 1986) has been a total disaster. RDR today is counting down to 1st January 2013 and the heads are already rolling, including mine. In this environment you’re either a Roundhead (pro-RDR) or a Cavalier (probably Austrian school)….anyway.

The Leveson Inquiry report has been published this week and just like what has happened in the City, the same appears to be happening in Fleet Street.

What is at stake here is FREEDOM per se NOT just the freedom of the Press. As has been stressed more than once, the vast majority of journalists conduct themselves with ‘decorum’ and never disgrace their publications, their Editors nor, more importantly, their readers who are their lifeblood.

There are a few swine in every sty that need culling and the whole debacle of the on-going debate fails miserably in realising that the existing PCC has failed in its task of compelling journalists to take their ethical guidelines seriously.

What is needed is a stronger PCC with much more independence. What is NOT needed is any form of PRESS REGULATION. If the current crop of Hacked Off supporters and others are given too much platform (Hugh Grant et al) then it is NOT just our PRESS FREEDOM that is at stake here. It is FREEDOM itself. Private Eye and others would likely not survive the next inquisition.

For those who believe in regulating the press please contact any established, experienced and wise stockbroker who worked prior to Big Bang for their take on the matter. Even though there is no (manipulated) poll here I doubt any would back the Hacked Off brigade.

Next stop Moscow comrade!

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