Posted on Friday 12 October 2018 by Ulster Business

Martin 1

The above used to be the start of a good joke before the era of political correctness made this type of humour unfashionable and likely to embroil one in a law suit from a supposedly wronged section of the community, writes Martin McDowell, managing director of Osborne King.

I grew up in an era where comedians actually had the benefit of free speech and you simply switched off or walked out if you didn’t find them funny. Common sense used to prevail and adults were able to admonish children as part of their development process.

Today the world is different, everyone’s opinion matters even if it is illogical, ill-conceived and does not stand the scrutiny of even the most cursory of cross examinations. Politicians have always manipulated the message to try and persuade the electorate that the policy they are peddling today is for our benefit. Once elected they then change tack, claim they never supported the policy that they were elected for and blame the opposition.

One of my clients’ recently told me to stop wasting my time writing about Brexit because nobody cares and the subject is now boring. I tend to agree that the subject has been over discussed but sadly it appears to have been under considered by almost all associated with our path to European exit.

Local, national and European politicians have patently no clue as to how to deliver a workable and practical divorce with both sides predicting a range of dire consequences for the UK economy whether we stay or go. As ever the true position will never be visible to the vast majority of voters and, therefore, we will probably never have the chance to understand our exit deal, whether or not we get the chance to vote on it. Never has the duplicitous nature of politicians been more evident than this shambles we are now watching.

Businesses do not have the luxury of endlessly debating a myriad of options, we need to make decisions and act upon them. If we don’t then jobs are lost and families suffer. Locally we are pathetically represented by a group of politicians who appear not to want to undertake the jobs they were elected to do. Maybe I am just cynical but it appears to me that they are hiding in the shadows hoping that someone comes up with a plan for which they have no actual responsibility. That way, if it works they can quietly move forward as if they were a part of it, if it fails then it was not their fault. Do we not deserve better than this?

I read an article in another publication recently, penned by one of my competitors, in which he invoked property professionals to be more optimistic and sell the positives of the NI market. I have spent my entire 35 year career trying to sell the positives of investing in NI. I have stayed here, built a business, paid taxes, employed many people and hopefully delivered pleasing results for our clients. It would be really nice if for once our politicians could simply deliver us a viable business oriented solution that made life easier rather than the constant uncertainty we face.

Imagine business owners delight if the punchline to the gag was “went to the pub and agreed a workable plan”. Now that would make me smile.

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