This weeks big story was that of Barclays being found guilty of manipulating the LIBOR banking rate by the FSA and US CFTC and fined a record £290 million. Other banks are also in the firing line and due to face questions in the next few months, RBS just sacked a couple of staff as part of its damage limitation exercise. And Bob Diamond (geezer) has been left with some awkward questions to answer.
One particular question for Bob Diamond(geezer) is whether or not he is going to resign, and if he refuses to go, will the Barclays board sack him? He was after all, head of the very division of Barclays guilty of misconduct, when the Libor manipulation was going on. He is of course trying to apply what Id call the Nuremberg defence, blaming hapless lowly employees for doing it all behind his back (with them resorting no doubt to the just obeying orders gambit).
But this ignores the principle of command responsibility as I previously discussed in relation to the Murdochs and phone hacking. In short, the whole reason why someone like Bob Diamond (geezer) is able to justify his ridiculous salary is by taking command responsibility for his company, or the division of his company that he head up. In essence he takes management responsibility (and credit) for the good things that are done (and his share of the profits), but the door swings the other way, in that he is also responsible for anything bad (or illegal) that happens.
In such situations we are forced to choose between two possibilities, firstly that he was in on it and thus as guilty as everyone else involved. Or secondly, that he was too stupid or incompetent as a manager to keep control of his own staff and prevent this from happening, in which case he is guilty of miss-conduct. Either way, there is no question that he should resign….and hand back the bonus cheques (£105 million in 2011) hes been collecting the last few years as he heads out the door!
Why are they not in jail?
But I would argue that a few resignations and sackings arent enough. What we need to see is a few bankers going to prison. Let us look at the facts. Back in 2007, these same shower of c*nts brought the entire global economy to the brink of collapse and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer (see Tony Robinsons rant on Question Time). Even after the bailout, they helped snarl up credit markets, making life tough for many small businesses. Indeed, this LIBOR manipulation cost many small businesses dearly. Theyve also been actively conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Euro, which will have serious economic repercussions for the whole world.
If you or I held up a post office, or lied on our mortgage application, or a lowly clerk in the bank spirited a few quid out of the tills, wed all face serious fines and probably go to jail (the bank clerk would certainly be sacked…and they wont get a golden handshake!). Barclays are now guilty of committing gross and systematic fraud over several years to the tune of many billions. How can it be that these people arent in jail!
In other parts of the world they have a word for this sort of behaviour Corruption! The reality is that we live in a Feudal society, where the banker, traders, celebs, etc. are the new nobles and the rest of us the plebs. In the middle ages, while Magna Carta officially made all men equal, the reality was very different. While the peasants could face harsh justice for the slightest crime (or suspected crime), the Nobles could pretty much get away with murder (in many cases literally!). These nobles committed systematic corruption on a scale that would put Mugabe to shame and often sent out their forces to rape, pillage and murder villages on the land of their rival nobles. If they got caught, they could face, at worse, a slap on the wrist fine, usually paid by them giving up land (i.e. it was the peasants on that land who paid, as they ended up swapping tyrants!). The only situation where a Noble need fear, was if he acted against the king, which could cost him his head if he lost….or see him made king if he succeeded!
Similarly today, the plutocrats of the neo-nobles are beyond prosecution and essentially above the law. They have in effect a get-out-of-jail-free card. Those fines Barclays will be paying, not the traders or Bob Diamond (geezer). In other words if youre a shareholder in Barclays, or a low ranking employee, or a account holder, that would be you who is paying for the crimes of others.
The Peasants revolt
This is a system that has to change, as it is not only grossly unfair, but it is a threat to democracy itself. And the plutocrats have good reason to want it to change. Another trend of Feudal states is that every now and then the Peasants tire of the constant shafting they are forced to endure, snap, and go on a murderous rampage otherwise known as a Peasants revolt (or slave revolt back in Roman times). Indeed this tradition stretches right the way through to modern times. One could draw parallels with the Peasant revolts of the Mediaeval world and the French revolution of the 18th century, or even the Russian revolution. Indeed, one could even draw a parallel between the current Arab Spring and such revolts of the past, as a large driver of these Middle East uprisings is the oppression of the current regimes and the sickening squandering of the regions wealth by a small, and corrupt elite.
So the bad news for the Plutocrats is, if things dont turn things around, if there isnt more accountability of them for they’re actions, and a more even distribution of wealth, they are running the serious risk of some western states descending into the sort of anarchy we say in the past (or indeed on the streets of Syria or Greece today). All the money in the world will not save you from a lynch mob!
In case of Emergency break glass
So where does Cameron sit with all of this? While he made all the noises wed expect him to make, as with the Murdoch scandals, or Jimmy Carrs tax dodging….oh! hes shocked!…incensed even!….is he going to do anything about it?….Youre joking right!
I think it was telling that Cameron began talking this weekend of an EU referendum. Of course he was very non specific, no exact details, no timetable, etc. As Ive previously pointed out the Tory leadership know it would be a disaster for the UK leaving the EU, and for starters the Lib dems would never agree to such a referendum, so theyd be essentially provoking a general election by trying to get one. But they also know it plays well with certain xenophobics within their party and pushes the media’a buttons (in particular, the rightwing media).
In truth this is the equivalent of emergency spin doctoring. By David Cameron talking about a EU referendum, he knew that this would knock all this Barclays stuff off the front pages, giving time for things to settle down. You can expect more stuff about Immigrants and bashing those on welfare in the coming days as well.