Yesterday the Select Committee in The Commons grilled the HBOS and RBS mob and ran amok to great effect; illiciting expressions of ‘profound and unreserved regret’…. with one exquisitely groomed and suave titled banker saying that he could not ‘be more sorry’. All this is well covered by the BBC and others and I referred to it yesterday.
Today, Prime Minister’s Questions was a cross between Richard III and a Brian Rix Farce. Gordon Brown shuffled to his feet in a manner, to me at least, as if he was reprising Olivier’s introduction to Richard III… “And now is the winter of my discontent made gloriously worse by this ex Chairman of HBOS…”
The saga began when The Daily Mail alleged that Sir James Crosby (adviser to Gordon Brown and knighted by Brown for services to Banking) when head of HBOS, sacked senior manager Paul Moore for raising concerns the bank was open to too much risk. The BBC reports ” Sir James, who led HBOS from 2001 to 2006, said there was “no substance to the allegations” But Paul Moore said he stood “firmly and confidently” behind his allegations against Sir James.”
With absolutely no ministerial contact whatsoever, apparently, between Downing Street and The Financial services Authority this morning, Sir James Crosby threw himself onto his sword and resigned as deputy chairman of City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – conveniently, before Prime Minister’s Questions at 12.00 today.
The BBC’s Maven of Mavens on Economic Matters, Robert Peston, said that he “understood that Sir James had stood down to protect the FSA from controversy.”
The BBC report states: “The Treasury told the BBC it was Sir James’ personal decision to resign from the FSA” This of course, is almost guaranteed to send the slavering hacks into a frenzy of “But was he pushed?” speculation and so it proved today on the BBC’s Daily Politics show presided over by Andrew Neil.
David Cameron, fresh out of the oven as Pillsbury Doughboy incarnate, launched into the Prime Mentalist with the fervour of a hunstman on Boxing Day trying to find a fox to slaughter; accusing the Prime Minister of incompetence, lack of judgement, failing to get his facts right and, noting that the Banking mobsters had apologised, for not having the decency to do likewise for mismanaging Britain. All good stuff… allowing sundry front benchers from both sides to nod wisely, laugh, roar, nod their heads vigorously or, in Harriet Harman’s case do her Nigella Lawson impersonation and smile seductively, but meaninglessly.
The story became even more amusing when it was discovered that Sir James Crosby had been Chairman of HBOS and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Services Authority for some time at the same time, prompting Andrew Neil to the inevitable comment that this was tantamount to putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum. There was much huffing and puffing by Hazel Blears and the Chairman of the Tory Party, Eric Pickles – with Pickles even asking Andrew Neil if he knew about the conflict of interest and had complained about it at the time. Farcical, really, but ineluctably British… and hey.. look on the bright side…. if these banking mobsters had pulled this stunt in China they would probably be shot at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing.
Finally… let’s go over to the Maven of Mavens, Robert Peston on why Sir James Crosby resigned…
I can barely wait for more revelations and developments on this sorry saga – but turning now to another form of vanity – the vanity of The Home Secretary and her expenses claim. Well… it all turns out that she has done absolutely nothing wrong, everything is above board, the complaint has not been upheld and Chief Political pundit from the BBC Nick Robinson hyperventilated on the Daily Politics show today that the truth of the matter is…. that she was telling the truth and has not broken the law… so there we are… another storm in a second home tea cup. She is, therefore, fully entitled to continue to be a hapless Home Secretary and spend the next year of her time as Britain’s worst Home secretary in recent years – an opinion I am still entitled to hold even under this government, until Team Brown face the flaming torches of the electorate when Brown has no option but to call an election.
And finally, if you haven’t already seen this and want a laugh… have a look at this excellent nonsense from The Onion…Sony Releases New Stupid Piece of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work..
UPDATE 11th February 7.30 pm
Email from David Cameron (To all who signed up for the original WebCameron)
This morning we learnt that Sir James Crosby had resigned from his position as Deputy Chairman of the City watchdog – the Financial Services Authority. This was because of an allegation made about his time as Chief Executive of HBOS. A former employee claims Sir James Crosby sacked him for saying that the bank was taking on too much risk.
Why is all this so important? For three reasons. First, because it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s judgement. Sir James Crosby is one of his trusted economic advisers and the man he put in place to oversee the regulation of our banks. The turn of events now shows Gordon Brown’s misjudgement in putting him in such an important role.
Second, it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s character. In the House of Commons today, I asked the Prime Minister to apologise for getting this judgement call wrong. But, as ever, he refused. Be it for claiming to end boom or bust, failing to regulate our banks, or now this, the Prime Minister is simply unable to admit when he’s got things wrong – so I don’t believe he can be the man to put things right.
And third, it raises questions about the way this Government works. The immediate events leading up to Sir James Crosby’s resignation are still not clear. Was it his decision? Or was he pushed in order to make life easier for the Government? Whatever happened, I suspect this will not be the last of the resignations we see to save this Government’s political skin.