i Editor's Letter: Confirming our worst prejudices


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The Independent Online


Rarely has anything angered you so much as the latest revelations about banks rigging Libor, the average interest rate that they charge when lending to each other.

What really upsets you is our apparent powerlessness in the face of corporate behaviour we abhor, regulators without teeth, and a Government that remains unwilling to intervene - unless to score cheap points off a comedian.

Barclays' record £290m fine is piffling in the great scheme of things. We know it will be passed on to customers somehow. The emails between traders, which you couldn't make up if you were writing an awful sitcom about the City, reveal: one, a revolting laddishness that confirms our worst prejudices; and two, a blithe disregard for regulations that, um, confirms our worst prejudices. They thought they could get away with it, because who would stop them?

Arrogance is a thread that runs through recent major scandals. A certain air of invincibility or, at least, untouchability pervaded among MPs abusing expenses or journalists hacking phones. In the case of bankers, it still does. Despite all the huffing and puffing over regulation and bonuses ahead of the last general election, our politicians seem unable or unwilling to grasp the nettle and legislate for a better banking system.

What can you do? Not much – although you could change banks. But, famously, we are more likely to get divorced or change our football team than we are to change banks. It may be a Hobson's choice (to the one bank you can find that you believe operates ethically) but it is a choice nonetheless.

With that I am off for a week, leaving you in Vicky's able hands.