The mess over the Libor fixing grows worse, almost by the minute. Even the bunnies of the Daily Telegraph have been less than happy:
George Osborne will this afternoon be going through the motions of setting up an inquiry into the rate rigging scandal that broke over Barclays’ head last week. If you believe this will shed much useful light on the scam, prepare to be disappointed. This has the look of political cover being hastily fabricated so that the Government can be seen to be doing something about these wicked bankers.
At the utterance, Gids “Submarine” Osborne gave the game away with his “Hands up”, addressed to Ed Balls (who had been City Minister at the time. The point, Gids, is that this was a massive — even a global — conspiracy, and the malefactors made damn sure they kept their mega-fiddle under the radar. Whereas, you and your lot, Gids, wanted less regulation, less scrutiny, less interference in the sausage-making of bankers.
If you didn’t get the elliptic reference to the making of laws and sausages, it might be from Bismarck (though too frequently attributed to Churchill):
Je weniger die Leute darüber wissen, wie Würste und Gesetze gemacht werden, desto besser schlafen sie nachts.
Back in 2007 the sainted (by the Tory Right) John Redwood and Simon Wolfson were deputed to cook up a Tory Economic Competitiveness policy. That also was at the time that Barclays and others were ripping up the joint. This is the kind of fluffiness that resulted:
We appreciate that people want some business regulation, in addition to the civil and criminal law where it can do good. It may be 100 degrees in the business bedroom, but people still want a comfort blanket to keep them company. It is time, however, to present a more radical challenge to government’s desire to set out ever more things in legislation; and to become involved in ever more detail that properly should be managed by suppliers and customers. Too much regulation just overcooks, harming or putting off the businesses that need to deliver the goods and services.
Remember: Malcolm reads this twaddle so that you don’t have to.
Disgusted of Macclesfield (and now Islington)
One can hear the distaste Nick Robinson feels as he frequently updates his postings on the BBC website:
UPDATE 6.00pm: An inquiry but not as we know it. Led not by a judge but by a Member of Parliament. Staffed by politicians – other MPs and peers of all parties. Set up not with all party agreement, but in the midst of a political row.
Robinson loves the sting in the tail: note those final seven words. He adds:
Government insiders reacted angrily to the suggestion that, just as on phone hacking, the prime minister risked looking slow to react and had been forced to respond to Labour’s calls. Today’s announcement has, I was told, “absolutely nothing to do with Ed Miliband”. Then they added, not altogether consistently, this has “shot Ed Miliband’s fox”.
Labour will now try to force a Commons vote on whose idea of an inquiry is right.
Later still, we have:
UPDATE 7.38pm: The MP who’s been asked to chair an inquiry into banking has told me that this is “a ringfenced job” which is “not trying to work out how to reform the whole banking industry” but is, instead, looking specifically at one question – the Libor scandal in which Barclays was “making money by rigging the market.”
None of which could, or should induce Labour to participate in a white/black wash job.
Of course, to the Tory faithful this is another loony-leftie BBC smear. Bit difficult in the case of Nicholas Anthony Robinson, MA, chairman of the (very Thatcherite) Young Conservatives, 1986.
This show will (happily) run and run.