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Is it me or is everything bureaucratic?

I don’t know if they were trying to tell me something or simply thought I was on the same wavelength but at my 65th birthday, friends gave me a copy of Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? by Steve Lowe & Alan McArthur. The strangest thing is that for my previous birthday, another friend gave me Grumpy Old Men by Stuart Prebble.

What is my point? These two highly amusing books really do expose the distortions and dangerous interpretations that creeping political correctness has insidiously imposed on us via our legislative and executive Institutions.

Earlier this week, we heard of a Home Office out-of-court settlement made to prisoners who were denied “drugs” and made to go cold turkey while being weaned off them.

The whole world and its grandmother raised their hands in horror and disbelief. Politicians decried this distorted misinterpretation of human rights law and numerous voices in the Cabinet and the opposition have been heard calling for decoupling of our human rights laws from the model created by the EU.

In my own small way, I have battled against petty bureaucracy for many years, most notably in the applic-ation of financial services regulations.

It is time to wake up and challenge the rule-makers, especially when they proclaim that they intend moving to a “lighter” (read less obstructive) “principles-based” (read common-sense-based) regime. Ask for proof. Can we rely on the good faith that appears to be on offer in their stated intention to stand back from their Draconian approach to regulation? Look closer and you will see that the amount of red tape that was introduced will stay.

I have recently been forced to run the gauntlet of a six-monthly returns – RMAR – and discovered that nothing has changed since the absurdly complex e-regulation website was first created. The translation of a three-page profit & loss account, balance sheet and business schedule was protracted into a 30-page repetitious maze that had me reaching for the Valium. It took three days and several hours online and on the phone with an admittedly very helpful firms online guy before I could complete the forms satisfactorily.

The other day I had a call from an insurance company in response to a letter I had sent pointing out that the queries I had raised in an earlier letter had not been answered. The caller asked to speak to me and I answered: “Speaking” She then referred to my letter about client X and I said: “Oh yes, I did write to you” whereupon she said: “Before I go any further, can I do a security check?” I was astonished. She rings me presumably using the number on my letterhead, asks to speak to me, establishes that she is speaking to me and then wants to do a security check, asking for my postcode, etc. I was not having any of i. I told her if she wanted to talk to me she should do so and if she did not want to, she should hang up. (Grumpy Old Man, I guess).

It has got to stop and we have got to stop it. Are you hearing us, FSA? Are you hearing us, insurers? Are you hearing us, Big Government?

Buck Lopez

Vintage IFA/broker

Bexhill-on-sea,

East Sussex

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