Our politicians are like labradors – happiest only in the long grass
Like some sort of raggedy, enthusiastic golden retriever, Britain’s political establishment seem to be happiest when headed for the long grass.
Today’s paper is full of decisions, like some unattainable tennis ball, booted over the fence and made somebody else’s problem. Below, the failure to deliver infrastructure. In our deep-dive into capital markets, it’s reform of our listings and capital-raising regime. Yesterday’s much-anticipated announcement of changes to the UK’s green energy regime, which we were once a world-leader in, is yet another example of decisions deferred.
A diversion, if you will: working on a print newspaper does rather focus the mind when it comes to decision-making. We may not always make the right ones – sometimes a story should be on the front when we’ve put it on page five, and headlines can veer sometimes from the sublime to the ridiculous – but as a collective group we have to make a call. We credit ourselves with hoping you’d notice if nothing appeared in this column because we hadn’t worked out what to write about.
Such urgency has its flaws; if you look hard enough, you’ll always find a typo, no matter how much we try. But at least it gets done. We don’t have the luxury of pontification.
Westminster, however, seems incapable of making decisions. Mark Austin, the well-regarded lawyer who wrote a government-backed review into capital markets, is diplomatically polite about the aftermath of his well put-together, sensible work, but the fact the Chancellor has launched another review, led by a different lawyer, into many of the same problems that Austin identified tells its own story.
Get ten people with half a brain in a room and they’d identify many of the problems that hold the country and financial services back, as well as the solutions. From housing to the health service, it is obvious that all is not well; and yet appetite to fix it, at Westminster level, appears entirely absent. The City of London will not be immune from this country’s insufferable stasis without the Treasury getting a shift on with reforms.