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Lessons in gaining media support

David Barnett (Money Marketing, August 29) should take heart from the success of the campaign to curb new regulations on care homes and apply the lesson to financial services.

The campaign to head off the closure of care homes through rigid application of new regulations relating to the size and amenities of rooms got widespread media support.

News and TV pictures of 85-year-olds being thrown out of care homes caught the public eye and won support from Liberal Democrats while the main parties stayed silent. Result? Regulations ditched.

One thing is for sure -this did not happen solely through protests in the trade papers although they helped focus opposition.

So, lesson number one, widen the range of protest. Who gets hurt and why? The media was once onside against regulation. Now the answer to every problem is more and more regulation everywhere except the national media.

Go back to 1973. Old Labour produced a Green Paper advocating nation-alisation of 85 per cent of the life insurance business. There was furious opposition led by the industry. The media was onside. It did not happen.

New Labour has never forgiven the industry for its reaction and its response has been to secure the same result by more subtle means such as over-regulation.

The Treasury has appointed Ruth Kelly to revamp the industry in line with its template during this Parliament. New Labour protests its support for the market but its actions deny it. Lesson number two – get the big hitters onside and active. A silent industry is ready for burial.

There has to be a clear focus of attack. David makes a dozen points attacking the regulator but loses the general public&#39s support after the first one. Convenience finance costs money but it adds more value than it costs and always will do.

It needs a free market to function in, not a state-controlled one run by populist politicians, unqualified civil servants or promotion-hungry regulators egged on by contriving consumerists aiming at huge media incomes while refusing to discipline their many dishonest and devious members.

Lesson three – make consumers responsible for their decisions but give them more information.

The system of Government under which political parties with 25 per cent of the vote can do what they like is under attack. We who can influence people on a one-to-one basis need to turn those skills on to bring the media onside for individual freedom and choice.

Roy Bennett

Hackbridge, Surrey

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