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Another call for full inquiry into banking catastrophe – it will have to happen so Dave may as well do now

Posted on 3 February 2012 | 9:02am

I was pleased that Gillian Tett of the Financial Times backed the call  I made for a Chilcot/Leveson style inquiry into the banking disaster when we appeared on This Week last night.

When Andrew Neil asked for a ‘yes/no’ answer to the question whether Sir Fred Goodwin should have lost his knighthood, Michael Portillo got a bit uppity that I used neither word in reply, and said simply ‘irrelevant.’

But as I said here the other day, the idea that the loss of a silly bauble for one individual can somehow represent closure on this is a nonsense, and makes us look like a really silly country.

Gillian pointed out that following the American savings and loans crisis, which happened under Reagan, so vigorous were the subsequent inquiries that the number of financiers eventually jailed ran into four figures.

I don’t know if extensive criminality was involved in the banking collapse, but what I do know is that a lot of people in a lot of organisations screwed up big time, and caused havoc in the financial systems and in the lives of millions of people. As Andrew Neil pointed out, the consequences have been greater, and for more people, than the phonehacking scandal which has rightly led to an inquiry into the practices of the modern media. I was among many calling for such an inquiry long before David Cameron agreed to set it up. I expect that one day he will have to set up a banking inquiry too.

Gillian and I seemed to agree that the problem for politicians, bankers and regulators is that there has been no sense of closure on what happened. And there won’t be until there has been a proper reckoning. That means that all of the key players have to sit down in front of a powerful committee of inquiry, and be held to account.

It might mean such an inquiry would recommend the stripping of a knighthood or two; measures to deal with the out of control bonus culture; and ideas for new ways of running financial services. But more importantly, it could look at the whole picture – the role of politicians, regulators, credit ratings agencies, bankers, the lot.

Unless it happens, and unless it leads to change. the public anger will not subside, the politicians will continue to respond to it in a piecemeal way, and we’ll end up learning next to nothing.

So now that Gillian is behind the idea, I hope to see the FT leader pages fill up with calls for such truth, reconciliation and forward plan to be examined in detail and in public.

Banking largely got us into the mess. But it has a big role in getting us out of it. And it won’t be able to do so until that reckoning has happened.

  • Ehtch

    Weren’t the problems in UK financial systems imported from the US, where UK banks exposed themselves too much to the US fantasy property bubble? Thankfully, there has not been too much of a property market crash in this country, with so many people being thrown out of their homes or suffering immense negative equity, as those in the US.

    Certain European countries banks being involved, directly or indirectly, in the US have not helped either, as well as certain other EU countries too, cooking their economy books and being caught out.

    Maybe the best bet is for a deep and thorough investigation by a panel of academics, more or less behind closed doors, so as to avoid a media circus, and then let us know. But there again, they might have trouble getting the answers from those that were involved at the sharp end, since we have already found out those people seem to keep what actual happened to themselves which sent everything bananas in their own world, as they do, which turned everything upside down for the rest of us, and would prefer to personally keep in the dark shadows, again as they do.

  • Olli Issakainen

    I watched a documentary on the role of Goldman Sachs on the financial crisis yesterday. If we are not talking of criminality, we are at least talking about almost complete lack of morality.
    Banks are taking too big a share of the economy for themselves. Instead, they should back industries and growth.
    Bonds and derivatives are taking too much attention of the banks. Investment banking should be separated from retail banking.
    Complex financial instruments which are not beneficial to the society must be banned!
    We need a system that puts human wellbeing first. In the future we need de-growth.
    But happiness does not simply mean experience of pleasure.
    Instead of “disaster capitalism”, we need good capitalism. It is the neoliberal version of capitalism which is in crisis – not capitalism itself.
    Too much income has been shifted from labour to capital. Marx warned that this would lead to the collapse of capitalism.
    Less than a thousand people now own 80% of the wealth. This is causing a demand problem in the economy.
    It is dangerous for David Cameron to speak about “popular capitalism” in the age of bonuses and bank bailouts.
    Ed Miliband´s criticism of short-termism and predatory capitalism is right. Instead of unregulated capitalism we need redistribution, intervention and more regulation.
    We need a new economic model based on FAIRNESS.
    But as David Miliband stated in the New Statesman, social democratic parties must combine politics of production with politics of distribution.
    94% of the public service cuts are still to come. The UK economy will shrink 0.1% in 2012.
    So, instead of greed we need responsible capitalism. Your idea of an inquiry is a brilliant one.
    It should be established immediately.

  • Michele

    Aaaagh I’ve done the opposite of my usual error of scrolling over ‘Like’ to make a reply to a post and made a ‘Dislike’ en route to liking the OP …… moan moan moan. 
    Must re-visit and see if Gbc’s recommendation about clicking on a mistaken ‘Like’ works also on its opposite; trouble is that as their qty doesn’t show I won’t know ….. natter natter natter. 

    I think it’s so funny that you’re being so ‘out there’ about this. 
    I do worry though that such an enquiry wouldn’t have the jurisdiction over all those it would need to involve.

  • Libdem

    An inquiry isn’t a bad thing but will probably not help the finances of the country very much.
    The consequences of what the banks have done are well known and shouldn’t have prevented any government from implementing a law whereby individuals can be charged with the consequences of their actions. Individuals such as Leeson have been charged with fraud and have normally damaged just a bank but on this occasion we have a group ‘the bankers’ damaging whole economies. This group should be held to account in the courts.

  • Chris lancashire

    Couldn’t agree more that banking has a huge role in getting us out of this mess. If an enquiry would put a stop to the current lynch mob mentality against top bankers then bring it on. The banking industry is full of decent, hardworking people who provide an essential and, in many areas, world beating service. A few at the top are guilty of abuse but, equally, there are others worth what they get – the recent treatment of Hester was disgusting and does no credit to this country.

  • Michele

     Good post Aitch, I wouldn’t look forward to many periods like that last week when a lynch mob mentality was being whipped up.

    There are times when things just have to happen in public view so everyone knows nothing went under the carpet.  Even when things are open, such as the the Inquiry in to the behaviur of the media, we have oddities such as the three gossip queens being questioned together rather than separately.  Those lightweight mags lead readers along a path of spitefulness.

  • Alwyn Roberts.

    Really enjoyed watching you and Gillian Tett on “This Week” last night, you made a lot of sense, – a public inquiry into the banking collapse is definately needed in view of its damaging effect on peoples lives and  the whole country.

    However the best part of the program last night Alistair was you playing the bagpipes – very impressive!.


    Alwyn Roberts.

  • Anonymous

    Thats right, for those who think Reagan was a mad right winger, he also authorised bailouts, whereas the right wing economic position (as taken by 19th century American presidents) would be to let them fail.

    But at least when he intervened, he also made sure that the bad guys got punished, he didn’t interfere to save the bad guys like we did.

    Somehow I couldn’t see a failed bank being nationalised and then paying out bonuses under Reagan.

    Excellent discussion from all 4, Alistair, Portillo and Andrew Neil made great contributions and Gillian Tett was excellent as always.

  • Anonymous

    What sort of regulation would you have though Olli?

    Seems to me an FSA style micro-regulation with a few hundred relatively badly paid people chasing thousands of very well paid and funded people will not work.

    Bigger picture regulation like ring-fencing, glass-steagal, or best of all Mervyn Kings endorsed solution of safe Storage Deposit / Trustee Savings Bank accounts would be more like it.

    I also liked Mervyn King’s idea that he should be able to say to bankers “If we can’t understand a financial product / instrument, then you can’t use it.”

  • Anonymous

    We would need to make sure that the inquiry had teeth, like Reagan’s did. I can’t think of who would do the job most fairly, it could easily turn into a Vickers report type thing that just wants a few tweaks round the ages, rather than real reform.

    Nothing has happened so far that will stop the same thing happening again, we still have moral hazard (taxpayers underwriting bankers) and until we remove that (and there are ways) we’ll keep getting crises.

    Inquiry / reform should be an open goal for Ed, a way to set himself apart from Brown, Blair, Cameron, even Thatcher and if he’s bold enough (which he won’t be in a million years) even Reagan! (In terms of that one aspect! Can’t quite believe I just wrote that! I must be the only person in the world to compare Ed with Reagan!)

  • Jacquie R

    I agree that the stripping of the knighthood was largely irrelevant to the banking crisis and all its dreadful consequences. A full scale inquiry sounds attractive – though I wonder if it would be big and bold enough to do more than tell us what we basically already know.

    The knighthood business is, however, highly relevant to the honours system and, I hope, will force a real discussion. For instance, when are we going to stop giving vanity titles to self-serving multi millionaires and start giving more recognition to people who selflessly contribute to society?

  • Richard

    If an enquiry were to be set up now, Al, when do you think it would report? Three years time? Six years time? Ten years time? By the time it reported the results would not be important.
    Truth? Maybe. Reconcilliation? Never. The whipped up  hysteria on bonuses suits the politicians and the media, and takes the public’s eyes off the fact that we are as a cork on the world ocean, where forces beyond our control are effecting our destiny.
    The debate must shift to the G20, who may have the power to alter the slide. Their harmonised influence over the world economy is the only way forward.  
    Otherwise the shaving of benefits will be multiplied and goverment spending cut by 10, 20, 30%. A frightful prospect.

  • gillian currie

    ‘Banking largely got us into the mess. But it has a big role in getting us out of it. And it won’t be able to do so until that reckoning has happened.’
    The fox got into the henhouse and until the fox becomes a vegetarian
    he can’t look after chickens any more. 
    I say shoot the fox and then our chickens will safe. 

  • Gilliebc

    The facility to cancel a comment no longer seems to be an option Michele.  It was until very recently though.  Maybe the site needs updating.  I would very much like it to include email notification of any replies to comments as exists on other Disqus run sites.

  • Gilliebc

    I thought the bagpipe playing was great too!
    Not many people will admit to liking the bagpipes, I suppose they think it’s not cool!  I luv the bagpipes especially when combined with drums, stirring stuff imho.

  • Janiete

    We certainly need an inquiry into the banking crash, but it’s important that it has a wide enough remit to go wherever the evidence leads. There is a danger that any inquiry initiated by political parties that exist to maintain the status quo, will not ask the sort of fundamental questions we need answers to. We’ve had an example of this with the Vickers proposal, a step in the right direction but by no means a comprehensive solution, if indeed it ever happens.
    Within the Labour Party we need a root and branch review of business practice and its impact on wider society. Excessive remuneration at the top is out of proportion to degrees of success, while low paid employees often require top-ups from the public purse to keep their heads above water. There is little confidence in a tax system that tightly controls PAYE contributors but allows the wealthiest to siphon money overseas or take advantage of tax avoidance loopholes.
    In opening up these issues for debate we will feel the wrath of entrenched and powerful forces that will fight us all the way. They will try very hard to frighten the electorate into believing that abuses endemic in the system must be tolerated, that there is no other way. We do have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water and to support businesses that pay full taxes, interact with the public in an honest and transparent way and provide jobs and training for the long term benefit of all.
    Olli is right to say ‘It is the neoliberal version of capitalism which is in crisis – not capitalism itself.’  

  • Michele

     I’m not worried about email notifications at all, I don’t want to be alerted to look in more often than is handy, especially as it won’t be put up for some time anyway. 

    I think our mod looks in when it’s not impolite re what’s happening IRL; that’s faintly quaint and OK with me. 

    I have contact with people that have everything including ET (call home) feeding in to their iPhones and find it bizarre.  I do chunks and try to avoid receiving cyber junk, paper junk is bad enough!  We all know that if twitter’s quiet then someone’s busy 🙂

    I’ve said before that I find this obedience strange.


    Just managed to get home in time to watch the programme about the restoration of the beautiful Cutty Sark, ’nuff said 🙂

  • Michele

    I don’t understand the call for an Inquiry.  We know that what led up to the collapse started in the USA and we know Dubbya did nothing to stop it at its start. 

    We know USA are not ever co-operative about extradition so how wide could an Inquiry be?  What point would there be in all the European participants ‘telling’ on what balls started rolling during our overnight hours?

    What Gillian Tett talked about was an insular Inquiry, it did not bothr itself about Europe or anywhere else.

    If a precedent (of US co-operation on extradition to anywhere) were to be set I’d like it to be re Warren Anderson. 

    Banking will get past its blip, we’ve felt the pain and will feel more but we are not blinded and don’t have genetic effects that are still to be  manifested.

    • reaguns

      The problem in America was moral hazard and we have the same. If we removed it here, America could do what it likes, without ruining us too. We didn’t have to buy their sub-prime CDOs or give taxpayer backing to those who did.

      The only objection to an inquiry might be that some want an inquiry into deficit which cost us more than the bailout. But at least the deficit is spent on noble things (for the most part.)

  • Anonymous

    I liked the bagpipe performance and am a fan of bagpipes in general. Pipes and drums doing Scotland the Brave is my favourite, Green hills of something, and there was one they played at the military tattoo a couple of years back which was brilliant, but I dunno its name and never heard it again – dunno how to search for it even.

  • Dave Simons

     Uillean pipes have been ‘cool’ for the last forty years, thanks to players like Liam Flynn, Leo Rowsome, Seamus Ennis, Davy Spillane and the ones whose names escape me in the Bothy Band and the Chieftains. Ditto Northumbrian pipes, thanks to Colin Ross, Katherine Tickell and others. Maybe the Highland pipes have been less ‘cool’ because of associations with certain TV programmes and military parades? Highland pipes and drums have traditionally stirred men to violence against one another in battle, but that’s an association shared with other kinds of pipes. They all sound good when they’re played well, especially when they’re doing laments, but they all sound horrendous when played badly. And it’s difficult to play pipes quietly!

  • Johnhenry59

    The  Tories have created one almighty mess over the Banking Crisis as they have, on Epic Orwellian proportions, characterised the crisis in the market as a crisis in public spending caused by the last Labour Govt ala Owen Jones.

    This has meant that the issue has not been dealt with appropriately and is hidden under a bag of Tory lies and spin, largely brought about by the Machiavellian nature of Squealer Osborne.

    So the public angst ANGER grows.

     I agree that there has to be a “reckoning” on this Banking Fiasco so that all the facts are brought out into the open by the major players and the issue is dealt with apporopriately and not with childish Tory Public School lies.

  • Michele

    Yadder yadder yadder … I like this article from last year :

    and this para:
    …………….But responsibility for the global debacle is as diffuse as liability for
    the typical sub-prime mortgage derivative – it can be sliced, diced and
    attributed to recklessly overstretched homebuyers, sly on-the-ground
    mortgage salespeople, flawed credit rating agencies and blind regulators
    as well as avaricious, bonus-hungry bankers. …………………

    Article also says that (quite rightly in writer’s opinion) nobody was jailed.  The tome referred to :

  • Ehtch

    Snow has been coming down here in West Wales as snow, then rain, and then big white shiney old pennies, and now back to rain.

    Alastair, if you are planning to get home from TM, put it to bed, at some travel lodge or farmhouse inbetween, it is going to be pumping with snow this afternoon in the physical middle England. Some hard core Scarlets rugger supporters set off this morning for Sale to see them in the LV= Cup – their relations are now down in their chapels if they will see them come home alive.

    OK. so I am being a bit dramatic on brit weather, so what? The beeb do it all the time, and they are pathetic at it. They need a script writer like me – I will get the brit public staying in their morning beds listening to breakie telly everyday of the year, oh yes, Mr Chancellor, that will increase your deficit for you, that you seem to be working hard to create.

    See what I did there – in, out, shake it all about… alright, don’t mind me…

  • Ehtch

    Totally off topic, but good to see Nigel Owens, the openly gay rugger ref, having the first gig of this years Six Nations, and is doing a good job of it.

    Sweet vid on beeb 3 last night presented by Justin Fashanu’s niece, John Fashanu’s daughter. My hanky too had to be found from the drawer, and I am straight, and I was macho with the best of them. Available hopefully for everyone when needed for change of mentality on iPlayer at the beeb,

    Most footballers, and managers, senior too, need to change their nappies of life.

    Joke for you, a rugger joke – Why does it take ten wendyballers to change a light bulb? Because it doesn’t, the ref has to tell them how to do it.

    Good, Ey? told you I was cutting in saying things, Alastair.

    But special mention to Joey Barton and his gay uncle – I had a great aunt that was gay and lived with what we had to describe then as her friend, and their life complex getting up in the morning feelings must have been terrible, for them both, as they lived together in that village Footie, for fuck sake, grow up will you, from top to bottom.

    So I like ladies, so?

    Notice what I did there? Argentina? oh god. I have lost them again, those torys…

  • Ehtch

    anyway, furthrmore, us in Wales/Cynru have accepted our gay’s since the beginning of time, as per here, from the marvellous welsh rugby Grand Slam drama-doc from the 1970’s mun, starring that great wots-the-shop-for ladies, habidashiery is it?, owner. Anyway, Maldwyn from Wales at his sharpest from then,

    Funny there is not many new born boys in Wales called Maldwyn since then, isn’t it? But there we go.

  • Dave Simons

     ‘Green Hills of Tyrol’? And was it ‘Flowers of the Forest’ at the military tattoo?

  • Ehtch

    Ref,  twitter twatter Alastair, , hope you have your Apine ski moon boots on, and a shovel with ye,  to get where you want to get home after TM. Very best of luck, Alastair the bagpipes, but doom I tell ye, doom it’ll be, burn ma wurds if yeh want!, just simple pitiful doom I seeee,

  • Gilliebc

    IRL ?

  • O’Mulmohery

    I was astonished to learn that AC’s favourite book was Madame Bovary (Desert Island Discs last year) Byt he way if you don’t know this masterpiece read the new translation by novelist Adam Thorpe, a proper scholar (Vintage Classics)n  Blimey the guy is seriously civilised.  I think the work for Depressives  is spot on. And now we find him playing bagpipes!
    It’s not his fault he is not playing the divine Irish pipes the Uillean kind. A step too far. But still I find I like much more than in his Tony Blair days, though I apporo e of his defence of that period.

  • Michele

     Sorry Gbc, ‘in real life’. 

    I’m going to blame it on too much exposure to the need for abbreviations to avoid miles of telex tape in my yoof.

  • Anonymous

    Dave I’ve just listened to Flowers of the Forest – I like it as well now thanks! I don’t think it was the one I’m thinking of at the tattoo though, at least not based on the version I listened to here: to tell maybe with pipes and drums at tattoo it would sound different. I think the one I’m thinking of was, sort of, less calm, more like the tempo of scotland the brave. I vaguely remember I think it was played to commemorate the fallen, or it may be that I was just thinking of them while I listened. Sorry, I’m too vague!

    And yes you are right Green Hills ot Tyrol is the other, here is a favourite vid of mine with Scotland the Brave followed by Green Hills of Tyrol:

  • Anonymous

    I believe it was deposit insurance = guaranteed bailout = moral hazard that caused the crash. Capitalism only works if greed for profits is matched by fear of loss, on behalf of those doing the gamble. Something I think Gillian Tett agrees with.

    However I think this is a fairly well balanced article from the Grauniad on the issue:

  • Ehtch

    Would really really make my day, and I could quietly go to my grave , when called, that I could see a packed terrace at a brit footie stadium chanting “We know he’s gay, but we love him”, at several huge decibles.

    “The” FA can fa in how they are promoting acceptance – Gareth Thomas the welsh rugger player was flabergasted good when he said the long known hidden secret that he was gay. He has never enjoyed dressing room banter so much. And Nige Owens the rugger ref too.

  • Ehtch

    School, in Wales/Gymru, Mr Gove you twat,

    All schools in early life should be like this, Mr Gove, again, you total twat.

    There, I have got it off MY chest, but only for today. And thanks to Gwenda Owen y canwyr/singer in the vid, when she pointed out to me yesterday her latest yootoob vid available, a really really lovely girl that we have know each other for years, ever since me and my mate did the disco at the Pelican Club in Pontyberem when young, stirring thoughts as a byline.

  • Dave Simons

    ‘It is the neoliberal version of capitalism which is in crisis – not capitalism itself.’ 

    The neo-liberal version of capitalism is closer to pure capitalism than any other model, so I suggest it is capitalism itself that is in crisis. The neo-liberal model is essentially – ‘let it rip’ – and you can guarantee that when capitalism is allowed to rip, it rips most of us off something cruel! It is doing now. The hidden hand of the market can as easily demolish you as build you up, and it results in incredible waste of resources and recurring recessions. If capitalism’s the best we can manage then we surely are a flawed species. Two hundred years ago people were at least thinking of alternatives, even though most of the alternatives weren’t allowed to work in practice, not with rampant capitalism poisoning the conversation. Today – because of the collapse of what is jokingly called ‘communism’, we seem locked in the illogicality of capitalism, as if ‘there is no alternative’, to quote one backwoods hawker on a market stall up in the Lincolnshire sticks.

  • Ehtch

    A classic classic game today in Dublin, even more classic since us taffies won, ahem! Reminds me of 1971 up in Murrayfield via the telly when I was mine vee the scots. They’re next up – hello jocks, welcome, let’s us battle,

  • Ehtch

    Drama doc Grand Slam is available to see in its entirety on youtoob, as here like – very very funny, seen around the world in rugby circles, everyone in saffa, NZ and Oz knows Maldwyn, and in La France too. And excellent intro to it, with cartoons from Gren I think it is, who used to draw cartoons for the Western Mail when it was interesting,

  • Anonymous

    2 TV shouts for this week.

    1. AC is on question time, one of the guests is Kirsty Allsopp. I would pay a large fee to appear on this and ask her, or Phil, or Sarah Beanie “When you were encouraging people to buy houses at the height of the boom with your property porn shows, were you being corrupt or clueless? You were certainly wrong, but is this because you don’t have a clue, or have you got a relationship with estate agents and other industry players? Which is it.”

    2. 10 O’clock live returning to channel 4. I was a fan of it, despite its many negative points. AC had a good appearance on it.

  • Ehtch

    Where have you gone Alastair, how are you, no one upset you around here, I hope, but if it is me, I am sorry, I do turn peoples gyroscopes a bit. But there again, I could be just simply paranoid. I have a funny peculiar way of viewing things, admittadley, even if I can’t spell.

    Hope you are alright pal, where the hell are you? Please answer. Ireland losing to Wales in Dublin yesterday, is that it?

  • Ehtch

    John Laurie was a hell of a bloke, as per here, Edge of the World, from 1937, at the edge floating on off the Shetlands,

  • Ehtch

    See? The growling sea. Sea, you won’t get any change out of her, she is up and down and all over the place, talking to her will be money wasted at times.

    Her friend, the moon, stacking her tides and making us fools, rocks are ok as long not visited, sandbars too, as long sideways low tides are also not visited.

    Ay, mark my work, the sea she is a funny animal, not like us, too liquid and unsensible, bit like a woman really, yes, yeh.

    Song for the sea, sorry, did I say sea? wimmin I meant,

  • Anonymous

    “The neo-liberal version of capitalism is closer to pure capitalism than any other model, so I suggest it is capitalism itself that is in crisis. ” If by that you mean the current model, then that is not true. A purer capitalism would have no central banks, no government or BOE setting of interest rates, no deposit insurance, no QE, and even wouldn’t have things like bankruptcy.

    As for your other point, there was a long debate about this on the guardian recently. I presume you mean the “USSR/North Korea didn’t work therefore communism/socialism failed’ argument.

    I like the conclusion of some FT economists that we should look for new systems, but we should experiment with them on a small scale first, like in a small country or state, so that if they turn out worse we can abandon them without too much damage, if they turn out good we can copy them.

  • Dave Simons

     Yes I agree with your last paragraph. But I think neo-liberalism looks back to a time before state capitalism and monopoly capitalism, when supposedly a lot of relatively small independent producers competed at the market place, and consumers voted with their purses. Maybe that’s not necessarily a purer capitalism, but it involves a nostalgia for a time when capitalism was relatively young and unencumbered.

  • Gilliebc

    Thanks for that M.

    Language has changed so much with the advance of technology.  I hope it never reaches the stage where we write and speak in almost nothing but abbreviations though, because the English language is a beautiful thing and it’s also the only one I know 🙂

  • Gilliebc

    I so agree with all of that Dave.

    I believe humanity has lost its way or more accurately we have been led and taken in the wrong direction.  The fact that ‘money rules’ is totally wrong and grossly unfair on all but the wealthy.  When this system crashes which I think is inevitable, we will have no option but to try something else.

    Perhaps the old bartering system might be given another chance.  We all have something to offer in terms of skills and services.  It just needs to be organized properly and more efficiently.  Life is much more than being a wage slave to earn money to buy things we are told and conditioned to believe we need and can’t live without.

    Or, there may be another system which no one has even thought of yet.  But surely there must be a better way for humanity to live than the current corrupt and very unequal system that now prevails?

  • Janiete

    I think talk of getting rid of capitalism altogether is fanciful but there is a real appetite for rowing back its freedoms. There seems to be widespread recognition that we should question the accepted wisdom of putting all our eggs in the free market basket.
    We have shifted almost entirely to private sector provided housing and social care with some disastrous consequences. In health and education we are about to do the same. We should be asking what can reasonably be trusted to the market and what would best be retained within the public sector. Where publicly funded services are outsourced to the private sector they have to be regulated to ensure the sort of secondary benefits common in best business practice is provided in terms of training and jobs. No businesses should be able to receive public funds to deliver services then transfer related jobs out of the UK, or use sharp practice to avoid full UK taxes.
    We have a far better chance of achieving a decent and fair society if we have a more balanced mix of public and private. Publicly delivered services must be constantly monitored to ensure efficiency and quality of service for the benefit of service users not the staff or management. Privately delivered services must be scrutinised to ensure exploitative practices including overpricing and tax avoidance is eliminated. The overriding principle must be that both sectors operate to the benefit of the majority not the privileged few.

  • Anonymous

    I vote for Gilliebc in this one! I think Michele’s point is we might get the email alert before its posted up here – that would be annoying, I think it can be set up to only email us when its posted.

  • Dave Simons

     You’ve got me intrigued now! More like the tempo of the Quaker Oats tune? I’ll have a rummage through my books. I don’t play pipes but I do play pipe tunes on other instruments. ‘Wi’ a  Hundred Pipers’?

  • Ehtch

    Bah Humbug! The english language is a prostititution of a language – a mongrel running around the world. But does evolve each day, so that is alright then, isn’t it like? But don’t get me started on latin! Now there’s a language that should be squashed from existence, what with them Romans calling our beautiful welsh language common, when they came to visit us. Boudicca from Norwich(!) was not impressed, no, she wasn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Dave I don’t think we’ll ever get it unfortunately! I listened to wi a hundred pipers, the tempo was not as fast as that or as slow as flowers of the forest, closer to scotland the brave, maybe a bit slower than scotland the brave but not much. Its bugged me for years now, I’ll never get it. Watched a load of military tattoo stuff but still couldn’t find it!

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