May 15, 2014

Ever wondered how insurance brokers’ fashion house BIBA gets government to obey its every wish and whim? The answer, in a nutshell, is neither blackmail nor sexual favours, whatever some irresponsible commentators may choose to put about, but a highly secret dark art known as lobbying.

In his opening address at this year’s BIBA show, top man Steven “Walter” White offered assembled insurance trendsetters (and followers) an exclusive insight into just exactly how BIBA’s high-powered hard-hitting team maintain their steely grip on the levers of power.

Compulsively chopping waist-level air with both hands, and looking every bit the pugnacious campaigning old cage fighter, ever on the verge of plucking off his specs for one last lunging attack, Steve/Walt bragged about how the BIBA boys are in and out of 10 Downing Street all the time “on all key manifesto issues” and how they get together regularly with the folks at the Treasury, Cabinet Office, MoJ, DWP and the Law Commission to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Anxious though they may be to do Mr White’s bidding, the guys at HMG are notoriously scatter-brained and easily confused, so earlier this year BIBA set out a specific wish-list of things it requires those in power to “deliver” on its behalf in the form of an easy-to-follow guide or “manifesto” (see previous editions of Bankstone News for details).

Government officials love having this simple instruction manual to follow, and each keep a copy constantly at hand. Walt boasted to BIBA delegates that Jonny Evans MP says BIBA is really good at lobbying and that they (and their delivery list) provide simply “the best example of transparent lobbying” (which presumably means that you know it’s there – even if you can’t actually see it).

Walt drew delegates’ attention to three key issues in the manifesto: “total signposting” (which involves brokers handing over clients they can’t help to their competitors), SME (where he addresses the poor benighted imbeciles who choose to run small businesses today with a helpful guide entitled “Small Business for Dummies”, and regulation, which he said (again) was unfair.

As for the future, Walt said BIBA would be having a bit of a think about standards and the raising thereof (an idea they nicked from the IBS Council). “Any debate around raising standards,” he declared heartily, “is a healthy debate.” What BIBA, wants he spelled out emphatically, is to “establish a practical, pragmatic pathway to raised standards”.

That’s one pathway Bankstone News will almost certainly not be following Mr White down.

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