The leaders of failed financial institutes are being dragged out of their chateaux and paraded through the streets. I can hear the distant rumble of the tumbrels
Or, to shake off that fearsome image, let’s start with the show trial which took place today. Erstwhile heroes of capitalism were called to account by that Robespierre of the New labour Revolution, the Treasury Committee chairman John McFall
The BBC covered the proceedings
The former bosses of the two biggest UK casualties of the banking crisis have apologised “profoundly and unreservedly” for their banks’ failure.
Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin told MPs on the Treasury Committee he “could not be more sorry” for what had happened.
The wrath of the prosecutors was reported in The Guardian
Sir Michael Fallon: “You [McKillop] were in charge of this board. You’ve destroyed a great British bank.”
John Thurso: “… I have rarely never heard such anger about an issue … And that’s because so many sound businesses are at risk of going under because they can’t get funding. 99.9% of my constituents believe that if a black hole opened up and every banker, and every derivatives trader and arbitrage trader fell into it, the world would be a better place ….”
George Mudie: “…The anger that the public feels is because you’re all in denial.”
But the jury remained unmoved. Chairman Tom McFall dismissed their grovelling pleas for mercy.
“They did give an apology and it seemed fulsome, but, as the session went on, I think they were drawing back from that and saying ‘Well, look, there were events outside our control’. If you ask me my opinion – yes, they were advised to do it (apologise). Was there a hint of arrogance still there? Absolutely.”
The Terror begins
I can’t get that image out of my mind’s eye. It took the French Revolution over a year to get down to the really brutal stuff, the show trials and public executions. But that was then. No chance of public executions here …
But the public anger might be as intense, and approval for meting out the harshest punishment possible on those accused.
So far, the most virulent attacks have showered down on the Leaders of the biggest financial institutions, and then The Government. But there is a more general wave of anger directed to all politicians, and that ‘least worse system’ of representative democracy.
And who next?
Business Leaders? Entrepreneurs? Foreign workers? “Make them walk naked ..stand in public with clown hats. ”
It is coming. The terror. And intellectuals will not escape scrutiny. What training did these people get to equip them to run a bank? Well, the answer is, a great deal of training. So let’s reserve a tumbrel for the leaders of business schools. Once again, the cry will be heard. What did you teach the MBAs at Harvard Business School?
And after that the tumbrel. Stop, enough. I want to get back into a state of denial.