When all the issues around Barclays and Libor came to light, I wasn’t too shocked, for some reason I don’t think this is going to be the last “revelation” that will come to light. I even thought that maybe a quick investigation to get it sorted, could be the best way to go. But it just proves about how much Ed Miliband has his finger on the pulse when we see how Bob Diamond was treated by the Treasury Select Committee yesterday. Eds proposal is bang on, a two-phase independent enquiry is needed. There is much more to this than meets the eye.
In Mr Diamonds “rigorous” interview yesterday it became apparent that MPs just can not be seen to be impartial in this matter, regardless of if they are or not. The whole meeting was a very cosy, first name discussion. If they had cracked open a good Port and cut some Cigars then I don’t think anyone would have blinked an eye, it would have been in-keeping with the laid back approach. Even the chair of the select committee had to admit that after around 3 hours of “grilling”, they hadn’t got anywhere.
So why would an MP led investigation be any different? When I sat as a JP, we had 2 “drivers”, first to ensure that Justice was done, and secondly, to ensure that justice was seen to be done. This is what David Cameron needs to realise, that his MP led enquiry may get us answers, but it is always going to be a tainted review – The general public are seething that once again the banks are going to get a slap on the wrist as they sup cocktails with the leaders of the Country while the person on the street is bearing the brunt of their actions.
It was interesting to see that Cameron also got back on the Bandwagon of it all being Labours fault, but I think he has to play this one a bit more carefully. At the end of the day, he has on his team lots of bankers and city players who will have known or should have known that this sort of thing was going on. At the last election there were 3 former directors of Barclays elected, nearly 1 in 10 MPs are formerly involved in Economics, even our own Gloucester MP, Richard Graham, worked for Barings (Head of international business no less). So to say that the Tories wouldn’t have known what was going on is a bit suspect, when you consider than many of the select committee and treasury department was actually employed by them at the time, the claim is rather duplicitous. At the end of the day, if they didn’t know, and they were telling Bob Diamond he was incompetent for not knowing, then what does that make them?
Anyway, hope the debate today shows some sense, and we get an independent enquiry (but a speedy one). Otherwise we will never get any closure on the issue and it will take the energy away from trying to generate Growth and getting people into work.