Commentary: two tribes

The boss of Barclays appeared before MPs yesterday. The Financial Times described it as a dialogue of the deaf and contrasted the atttitude of the City of London with that of the City of Westminster.

This misses the point. The City of London is responsible in theory to shareholders, in practice to the Boards of Directors which agree and indeed receive the billion pound bonuses which so offend the public. The people in Westminster, at the end of the day, represent us. MPs are often criticised, sometimes rightly, for being out of touch. But on this one MPs of all parties are absolutely on the nail.

Diamond was not repentent. He talked offensively about banks being allowed to get on with creating jobs – impervious to the reflection that it is banks which have done so much to destroy jobs.

In fact his performance overall was surprisingly poor from someone so well rewarded: a council chief could have performed much better, as could many others in the public and private sector.

We know that the Coalition Government is wrestling with this problem. The banking levy already imposed is welcome. But if the banks, including the ones I own and you own, do pay bonuses of £7 billion the public will not wear it and will expect their Government to exact retribution.

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