The media is seemingly ignorant of the grievous impact of George Osborne’s reforms on access to justice for PI victims.
As a former City scribbler of sceptical mien, I always shifted uncomfortably whenever MegaCorp boasted of its cuddly intentions towards its customers.
Quoted companies exist to make money for their owners - full stop - and to extract as much profit from customers as possible as cheaply as possible.
Quite right. They are a principal engine of capitalism and can only be properly understood in that context. Yet it still surprises me how often the financial pages seemingly conspire with UK plc to obscure this.
The much-heralded £50 cut in motor premiums is a case in point. Does anyone seriously think the insurance lobby’s carefully calibrated and doubtless extremely expensive campaign for personal injury reform is altruistic? If it were, the ABI’s members (whose charitable impulses were hitherto unknown to me) would be wasting their shareholders’ money.
Yet the media seems to have swallowed the spin whole. Here is a sentence from today’s Guardian report on Aviva’s magnificently self-serving press release on a single example of whiplash fraud dating from as recently as, er, 2012: ‘In November’s autumn statement the chancellor, George Osborne, announced a crackdown on claims, which could reduce drivers’ premiums by £50 a year.’
Who says claims will be cut by £50? Well, the chancellor and the insurance lobby, therefore it is so. Not a hint of the ‘Mandy Rice-Davies defence’: ‘They would say that, wouldn’t they?’(I paraphrase).
Yet again the tired and bogus old trope about venal, grasping claimant lawyers is disinterred, if only implicitly. Yet it would be unfair to pick on the Guardian – they’re all at it. The Fourth Estate is seemingly ignorant of (or worse, indifferent to) the grievous impact of Osborne’s egregious reforms on access to justice for PI victims.
To change the subject (though not entirely), Prime Minister’s Question Time was unusually diverting this week. The PM, perched on the moral high ground, declared that new defence shadow minister Emily Thornberry has questions to answer after accepting £14,500 from a law firm which sued British troops.
Perhaps she does. And in the same spirit of transparency, maybe next week David Cameron would like to update us on the Conservative party’s extensive donations from and links with the insurance industry. In fact, there’s a most interesting report on the subject here, in - yes - the Guardian.
Paul Rogerson is Gazette editor-in-chief