Alan Higham

My thoughts on topical issues


The renaissance period occurred in Europe across the 14th to 17th centuries and historians credit it as the period that bridged the Middle ages with the Modern Age. Renaissance meaning to be re-born.

Reflecting on the catalogue of lies and deceit that seem to typify the current times, I think we are in need of another renaissance.

In my own world of financial services, I have long observed that it is easier and more profitable to cheat, lie and deceive people. Regulators and policy makers are either too slow, stupid or corrupt, at least in the moral senses, if not the actual financial sense to stop the wickedness that results in wholesale mis-selling which has left most of Western Europe in a beggared state.

The problems aren’t unique to financial services as the food industry is amply showing at the current time.

Thinking more deeply, we have a corrupt and flawed system of government.   We have a genuine lack of democracy and accountability. Why else haven’t the causes of the MP’s expenses scandal been addressed?  The lack of real democracy in this country is made all the more disgraceful by the thousands of lives we help destroy each year in other parts of the world as we encourage our version of ‘democracy’.

Voters are utterly sick of today’s politicians and policy-makers as can be seen by how few people turn out to vote. A “none of the above” party would romp home.  We need new politics and a new type of politician.

The current PM is very nearly as socially useless as the last one and it wasn’t hard to beat him given he was by far the worst PM in living memory. Both were from very different backgrounds & political allegiances but share a common ground in being professional politicians who’ve barely done a day’s work in their lives and whose lust for power dominates all else.

The blue print for a renaissance needs to start with political reform.  We cannot expert any of the current turkeys to vote for this particular form of Christmas.

We have far too many politicians, councillors, assembly members etc along with their associated sycophantic advisers, rebel rousers and a galaxy of public officials, all paid through the nose by us, whose sole function seems to patronise and humiliate the tax-payers as they interfere with our daily lives, destroying the essential fabric of the country in the process.

25 years ago, courtesy and common sense were the dominating influences in the UK.  Today, we may as well hang out a banner at Heathrow saying “Welcome to the UK: Terms & Conditions Apply”.

The time has come to start again and to sweep away much of the pettifogging behaviours.

First off, I would halve the number of politicians who make decisions across the UK and impose similar cuts on the number of policy advisers paid from the public purse.  No “special advisers” would be paid from public funds.

All politicians would be paid fairly and openly without benefits such as expenses and pensions where the value paid can be manipulated.

We then focus the reduced number of people on addressing the four core issues needed to put the country back on its feet.

1. Encouraging growth & investment in the UK economy

2. Removing the incentives for citizens not to work.

3. Reducing the amount of State led interference in day-to-day life

4. Enshrining ethical behaviour as the foundation for day-to-day life

We can start item 4 by taking a different approach to business.  Businesses that have prospered on the base of lies and deceit should just be closed down and its leaders tried as the criminals they essentially are.

Some of our failed banks should have been allowed to collapse and new ones take their place.  Until it is shown that cheating & lying doesn’t prosper then we will have cheating & lying at the foundation of our lives.

If the directors of a hospital were personally liable and accountable for how its hospital treated its patients then we would have clean wards and better patient care. Perhaps the directors of a food company should be made to eat its own food.

As we have amply seen, pages upon pages of rules & regulations to manage these risks along with millions of people employed to enforce them just has not worked. It has hidden the problems and helped slowly strangle the country.

In my company, we have a simple principle that is applied whenever we make a decision what to do.  I call it the “Mrs Higham Test”: would we be happy to offer this to our Mum?

We need a new approach; we need to be re-born.


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