Mervyn King selected Lou Bega's "MamboNo 5" for one of his Desert Island Discs. Perhaps, as he was being driven to Portcullis House for his final appearance before the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, the Governor hummed to himself: "A little bit of Tyrie in my life, a little bit of John Mann by my side, a little bit of Leadsom's all I need, a little bit of Ruffley's all I see." Or maybe not. For Sir Mervyn has not always seen eye to eye with his parliamentary inquisitors. As the outgoing Governor summed it up yesterday, their sessions have been "sometimes enjoyable, sometimes less so". This is one of those circumstances when "less" is more.
In fact, they had a titanic disagreement over governance. The committee thinks the Bank is a law unto itself and needs to be made more accountable. The Governor thinks there's plenty of accountability already. The Treasury sided with the Bank. You could fill the Thames between Westminster and London Bridge with the resulting bad blood.
The committee was actually rather restrained yesterday. Its chairman, Andrew Tyrie, kicked things off by wryly, remarking that he looked forward to welcoming Sir Mervyn to the House of Lords and recruiting him to the parliamentary campaign for greater Bank accountability. Sir Mervyn's jaw stiffened.
But the only MP who really tried to draw blood was John Mann, who read out a series of complacent-sounding quotes from Sir Mervyn to the TSC from 2007, and put it to him that central bankers were the last people anyone should listen to. Unfortunately, Mr Mann had, moments before, undermined the credibility of his attack by accidentally pouring water down the leg of a colleague. "Too much liquidity," joked Sir Mervyn. A joke about central banking! They'll miss him – despite all the bad blood.Reuse content