2012: A year of sporting heroes and establishment zeros

Thank you to our Olympians and other sporting teams for giving us some much needed good news.

Of course there was one key figure amongst “the powers that be” who put in her customary level of hard work and dedication thus standing, as usual, head and shoulders above the rest. The Queen, as head of The Firm, put in a peerless performance in her Diamond Jubilee year. Thank you, Ma’am.

Sadly, the rest of them should be sent to Room 101. The banks yet again plumbed the depths with routines that make Al Capone look a saint. Gigantic financial manipulation, money laundering, and miss-selling on a massive scale can only mean that we will have no respect for them for a very long time to come – and yet, they still don’t get it.

Barclays elects an old City bigwig as chairman who immediately turns round and appoints the chief executive of the FSA – one Hector Sants, who was on the Regulatory bridge as all these appalling things were going on as Head of Compliance. They decide to give a package of a mere £3m to boot. 

But that’s not all. In the New Year’s Honours List they awarded him a Knighthood! Even that natural supporter of the Establishment, the Financial Times spluttered, “four years trying to right the wrongs of a previous decade should not earn entry to Buckingham Palace.” Lord Oakeshott put it rather more venomously: “He was a very solid food manufacturing analyst at [stockbrokers] Phillips & Drew, but does he really need a knighthood now on top of his £3m package at the Barclays?” 

Sorry Ma’am, clearly your ministers and advisors have learnt nothing.

Hardly surprising then that a sigh of relief went up from every quarter as an outsider was appointed the next Governor of the Bank of England. Sadly not that outside, of course, since he did do time with Goldman Sachs. Nevertheless, there are signs he may pursue a refreshingly forthright approach. 

For example, he looks keen to abandon the fiction that the BoE is targeting an inflation rate of two per cent. With interest rates at near zero and inflation averaging north of three per cent for years now, he looks, instead, set to acknowledge that full scale financial repression is the name of the game.

Elsewhere, the BBC has managed to blow a hole in its image as the nation’s ultimate bastion of respectability. Who would have thought a disc jockey could cause such chaos? Luckily for them the Leveson exposed antics of News Corporation have prevented their main competitor from taking much advantage of Auntie’s pain. Talking of Leveson, it is disturbing to watch the attempt of the legal establishment to seize the initiative in determining what our press can and can’t do… which brings us to our prime minister.

Good to see Cameron has some courage when it comes to questioning Leveson. As Private Eye put it, we apologise if we may have given the impression that the prime minister was, “in some way a gutless coward who had failed to confront any serious issue with any degree of conviction and without recourse to a series of U-turns, indecision and shilly-shallying.” 

Could 2013 be the year when Dave finally asks us if we want to leave that ultimate example of a corrupt, self-serving, profligate, ineffectual, time-wasting establishment known as the EU? 

You can tell that, despite everything, I remain a hopeless optimist…

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