The fingerprints of the Treasury and, most importantly, the Chancellor, George Osborne, are clearly detectable in the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announcement today that plans have been shelved to investigate the culture, pay and behaviour of the banking industry. It is political interference of the highest order and should cause all of us deep concern. Banks are notionally in the business of protecting and growing customers’ money; it is logical, therefore , that they should try to maximise investment by charging fair rates on loans, mortgages and other financial products. However, in the last fifty years, banks have tackled wealth creation and financial returns to shareholders with an immoral zeal. In the pursuit of that policy, a culture of obscene bonuses for senior management and front line traders has become accepted practice. Successive governments, especially those of Blair and Brown , adopted policies of minimum interference with banking methods. Sir Fred Goodwin, Bob Diamond and others were given free reign which was accepted with alacrity. Wealth creation is an article of faith for Tories and, in particular, for the Cameron Cabinet, many of whom , including the Prime Minister, have close links to the City and the banking industry. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have both now got posts with major banking organisations. When the institutions collapsed, the taxpayers picked up the biggest bill in history; we now know that a mixture of greed, incompetence and criminal behaviour caused that to happen. The FCA announcement is a green light to the perpetrators for resumption; back to the future for them and a happy, new year.
We regularly read in the Press of ‘benefit scroungers’ being brought to the courts, disgraced in their communities and punished for petty criminality; DWP uses sanctions to bring misery to the lives of many and is chiefly responsible for the alarming growth of food banks throughout the UK. The timing of today’s announcement is pertinent – last day in December, flooding throughout the country at a traditional downtime period for ‘News’. In effect, it means that people associated with the banking industry, who stole millions of pounds, are outside the justice system; the people whose corrupt actions wrecked the lives of many have nothing to fear. Major scandals – mis -selling of PPI (Payment Protection Insurance), LIBOR ( the illegal fixing of the London Inter-Bank lending rate) and FOREX ( fiddling the rate of Foreign Exchange) are all to be forgotten . The Tories want an end to banker bashing;
The good, old days are back for the Fat Cats.