Barclays scandal demands Leveson-style bank inquiry

Comment

Opinion Digest: Barclays scandal increases distrust; Cameron and Clegg are too inexperienced

LAST UPDATED AT 10:56 ON Thu 28 Jun 2012

EVERY weekday morning from The Week online - a daily wrap-up of the best comment and opinion articles from the morning papers and the top political bloggers. If you think we've missed a good one, please let us know. Contact us via Twitter @TheWeekUK.

INVESTMENT BANKS HAVE CASINO MORALS
ALEX BRUMMER ON THE BARCLAYS SCANDAL
Another day, another monumental banking scandal, says Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail. This time it's at Barclays, the lender run by Bob Diamond who has this year been claiming he wants to be "a good corporate citizen". The comments seem like humbug after Barclays confessed to manipulating rates on the wholesale money market and copped a £290million fine. Senior staff, including Diamond, have agreed to give up their bonuses, but "the tarnish on their reputations will not go away". The latest disclosures "can only increase the deep distrust of the public in the integrity of the City and the bankers" and underline the widely-held view that "investment banks are no more than casinos gambling other people's money". Many will wonder why, nearly five years after the financial crisis, there has never been a full Leveson-style judicial inquiry "holding those who brought the economy crashing down responsible for their actions".

WE NEED MORE EXPERIENCE AT THE TOP
STEVE RICHARDS ON GOVERNMENT U-TURNS
You look at Cameron and Osborne's erratic policy journey and you wonder if they know where they are going, says Steve Richards in The Independent. "David Cameron and George Osborne are two talented politicians who are out of their depth." With little experience in shadow cabinet or ministerial posts, "they soared to the top of politics far too early, half-formed as public figures".  U-turns have been a persistent feature of government policy since the youthful duo took over the leadership of the Conservative party in 2005. Cameron/Osborne would have steered a more consistent path with more authentic public voices if they had toiled as ministers in departments or had fought long battles within their party. "Sharp intelligence, instinct, and erratic attachment to re-heated Thatcherism are not enough." With Britain in recession and a volatile Eurozone, we need Titanic leadership. "This is not a time to learn as you go along."

MURDOCH IS LOSING CONTROL OF HIS PAPERS
JOHN GAPPER ON THE NEWS CORP SPLIT
Murdoch's splitting of News Corp is an admission of defeat, says John Gapper in The Financial Times. For Murdoch it is as wrenching as "dividing his entertainment head from his newspaper heart". It is also a sobering moment for the news industry as a whole. "If Mr Murdoch can no longer protect his newspapers within his empire, who else can?" It took years for others at News Corp to persuade Murdoch to divide it up. He thought he knew about taking risks and losses, but the phone-hacking scandal changed that irrevocably. It showed investors that "the papers were not simply an irritation they had to live with but caused harm to the part of the company they liked" by scuttling the BSkyB deal. Until a year ago, Murdoch was in full control of his newspapers. The split will mean that investors now have more say in how the news company will run.

LET'S NOT BE A WHISKERY, SCARED OLD NATION
DAVID AARONOVITCH ON IMMIGRATION FEARS
Recent political rumblings about immigration are prompted by our ageing population more than anything else, says David Aaronovitch in The Times. A recent survey found that, when asked if immigration was "more of a problem than an opportunity", 56 per cent of under-24s agreed, rising to 83 per cent of over-65s. Hostility to immigration is more related to age and education than job fears, or living in high-immigrant areas. Politicians favour the attitudes of the old because they vote. The over-65s are 27 per cent more likely to see immigration as a problem and 32 per cent more likely to vote. "It is ageing not immigration that represents the biggest demographic shift in Britain." It's also a psychological shift. "Age tends to make us value security and stability and feel threatened by change." More than immigration, what we should really fear is our own, whiskered, static, frightened attitudes. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.