DAVID CAMERON HAS REALLY UPSET THE FINANCIAL TIMES
So why is the FT so upset?
Bankers are not immune from prosecution.
Bankers can and should go to jail.
So I say, well said Mr Cameron. You may have destroyed your chances of becoming PM if Osborne's presence at Bilderberg is anything to go by, but it needed to be said.
And look at the response from the FT!
Day of reckoning
Published: December 16 2008 19:26 | Last updated: December 16 2008 19:26
In times of crisis, governments can act while opposition parties can only talk. Frustrating though this is, it makes it even more important that they choose their words well. The speech this week by David Cameron, leader of the UK’s Conservative party, sounded more like grandstanding than a genuine effort to explain how to revive confidence in financial services.
Mr Cameron’s call for a bankers’ “day of reckoning” after the credit crunch overshadowed the more reasonable elements of his remarks, as – presumably – it was meant to do. The Tory leader made some valid points about the need for a national loan guarantee scheme and for a banking bonus culture that does not distort incentives towards excessive risk-taking. He was also right to point out that the Financial Services Authority has brought few cases to trial in the past year.
Yet berating the FSA for not behaving as though it operated in the US is too shallow a critique. While UK authorities can sometimes be accused of lacking zeal in their pursuit of white-collar financial crime, it is no good pretending that Britain can import the whole US legal system into the City. Arguments about plea bargaining alone are a strong reminder of deep-rooted transatlantic differences.
Mr Cameron’s speech has deeper flaws too. He has certainly tapped into a vein of public ire against bankers. In doing so, he has raised expectations of a time when those responsible for the near-collapse of the banking system will be held to account. But we are not about to stage a parade of bank executives being marched in handcuffs around the City. And when those who feel most angry about the impact of the credit crunch recognise this, they will be even more enraged.
Against a background of headlines about an alleged $50bn fraud, it is unhelpful for the Tory leader’s speech to conflate poor decisions and possible criminal behaviour. There is a clear distinction, which his speech failed to recognise consistently. Those who may have broken the law should face proceedings. But this is a world away from fuelling the populist mood that favours jail for all bankers involved in bad decision-making.
So Mr Cameron’s speech was a missed opportunity. We have moved beyond needing to have the age of irresponsibility drawn to our attention. Instead, what we need are some thoughtful and constructive words giving a clearer and fuller picture of what an incoming Tory government would do to revive the financial services industry and the broader economy. We are still waiting.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008