Editorial: Are you experienced?

There's a sense abroad that we could all do with a dose of good old-fashioned wisdom at the moment.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Some common sense, born of experience, might help us come up with sound ideas to get out of the mess we find ourselves in. So, this month, MT brings you a themed edition based on the Voice of Experience. We've got a round-table discussion featuring eminent greyhairs - and some not grey at all - on what practical measures business might take to weather the storm. That old high street sea-dog Sir Richard Greenbury, who led M&S in the '90s, is at his most salty recommending a 'back to basics' approach.

Then we have a high-powered line-up of business leaders advising what they'd do to put things right if they were made chancellor for a day. Look out for Luke Johnson's tough line on incapacity benefit - scrap it for those signed-off for stress or depression. Tim Martin of Wetherspoon would like to do something about the fact that he pays £11 in tax for every £1 he makes in profit. And Rupert Howell of ITV wants 10% lopped off public-sector spending. (That won't be easy, with a substantial chunk of public-sector workers expecting a wage increase of 4% plus this year.)

And we're pleased to have an essay from Gillian Tett, the only hack in the land who understood what a collateralised debt obligation was before the wretched devices dragged us all into the toxic mire. Tett has emerged as the unlikely FT superstar of the crash, not least because, like Cassandra, she has been warning for ages that things were going to go horribly wrong. Her mid-slump appearance on Radio 4's Today programme last autumn, in which she talked in apocalyptic tones, had grown men turning pale. If I'd had any money in the bank, I'd have hot-footed it down to Abbey to pull it out pronto and hide it under the mattress.

On the subject of experience, this happens to be the 100th edition of MT that I've edited. (Don't ask me if I'm any wiser - just greyer and with another 100,000 miles on the clock.) It does feel a bit like I've navigated a full circle. Back in 2001, when I took the captain's chair, we were in the middle of the post-dot.com squall. This Force 10 gale is a lot more serious.

That's certainly what Ken Clarke thinks. He's a rare thing in a politician - he tells it the way it is, won't be spun and has cocked the odd snook along the way. He knows that taxes are only going one way - up - and public spending the other. If the Tories do return to power next year, it will be interesting to see him in the cabinet.

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