Three hours of Bob Diamond giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee shed only a little light on the events of the past years – other than to confirm the gulf in attitude and perception between him and the ordinary public.
The political parties are now locked in debate over the options of a Parliamentary inquiry versus a judge-led inquiry. The advantage of the former is comparative speed, the drawback that it will get sucked into a blame-game between politicians - a subject of little relevance to the real concerns of the public.
This website was set up in 2010 with the specific idea of promoting a fully independent inquiry, a form of ‘truth commission’ at which a group of ordinary mortals could question and hear from the former ‘masters of the universe’. It suggested that these ordinary mortals should be drawn from those professions untainted by the extraordinary bout of greed-induced chicanery that has overtaken the City (and seeped onwards into sections of law and accountancy).
The suggested themes for a truth commission are very much those in the news at present. Culture, behaviours, values, ethical principles. Along with a straightforward explanation to the UK public of the price each household has paid to prop up the banks, and an exploration of the extent to which this has proved to be in the national interest.
Adita Chakrabortty in this week’s Guardian makes an attempt to answer the latter question. He quotes from the book authored by by the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change After the Great Complacence. This gets mixed reviews but sounds worth reading.
Elswehere on this site are suggestions of questions that a truth commission/independent public inquiry could explore, and ideas on how such a body could be established. It could happen quickly, without all the paraphernalia that a Parliamentary or judicial inquiry involves. It might not prove the best forum for fine-tuning legislation or introducing new regulation, but it would provide a means of channelling public anger and re-connecting bankers with the real world.
What would make it motor is a Government amnesty for whistleblowers who agreed to give evidence, and a mandate to override the confidentiality clauses imposed on those who left the financial scector because they could no longer bear to watch what was going on. Too much to hope?