So this morning I am going to write about Bob Diamond and the hardly unexpected news that this morning he resigned.  Personally I think he should have waited, there are clearly a lot more banks left embroiled in this scandal and to make a scapegoat of one man when clearly the whole culture of banking is probably the issue is wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware he was running Bar-Cap at the time and that the buck stops with him, I’m also aware of ongoing reputational damage to Barclays and that needed stemming also.  However if we are to demand the same of all the banks that are in the same boat how on earth will that work?  We’ll have most of our major banks leaderless and without direction, a desperate rush to tempt away the best candidates to take over, which will naturally push up remuneration (god forbid!) and quite frankly a lot of people taking someone second best because there’s nobody left. 

Surely a more sensible approach is firstly to actually investigate fully each bank, what went wrong and how then devise a solution to deal with it.  The biggest stumbling block to this that I can see is that it appears the Libor fixing was an almost open secret with many people complicit, which does make it rather difficult to apportion blame.  However on saying that since the banking crisis started there hasn’t been a single prosecution as yet, the general public see ordinary people being prosecuted for stealing bottles of mineral water and yet fraud on a massive scale goes unpunished.  In Britain and in London specifically financial services accounts for a huge amount of our wealth and the last thing we want to do is to kill the metaphorical golden goose, however we do need to clean things up in a way that the general public will understand.  The average chap in the street mostly had no idea what Libor even was until last week let alone its impact on financial products, it’s unlikely many beyond the chattering classes would follow any kind of trial but something must be done to show there is justice and that bankers can’t ride roughshod over everyone else in pursuit of profit. 

Having said all that though I am worried in general about the attitude to wealth and ambition in this country, there seems to be a constant bash the rich theme to almost any political discussion irrespective of which forum it happens to be on.  There seems to be a common misconception that if only we could take all the money off the wealthy then there would be no deficit, puppies would gambol in the street and to paraphrase Voltaire all would be for the best in the best of all possible worlds.  The problem is though that you can’t fix all ills this way, the way to bring people out of poverty and to make the poor better off isn’t by stopping people being wealthy.  It’s the same argument about doing away with public schools, standards across the board won’t rise simply because you stop the elite few from having the best you need to raise standards by doing better at the bottom.  The poor need help to become less poor and throwing money at them that’s been taken off the rich won’t cut the mustard.  Let’s start to celebrate achievement and give people something to aim for.  Why hasn’t Britain had a world-beating company like an Apple or a Facebook or a Microsoft recently?  Where are our Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?  We need to encourage people to get out there, have great ideas, help themselves and by extension others and celebrate achievement when we see it rather than deride them for being selfish capitalists only in it for themselves.  Let’s stop with the negativity, stop thinking we can simply tax the better off into oblivion, it’s too easy for them to up and leave anyway as France is starting to find out.  Let’s clean up the mess that is our banks then be proud of what we have, a world renowned city with massive opportunities, the greatest financial services centre in the world and hopefully a country that’s open for business and entrepreneur friendly!

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