James Moore: Knights jousting for Barclays show that it is still living in the past

Outlook Antony Jenkins was the belle of the ball after declaring he was "shredding" the legacy bequeathed to the bank by former chief executive Bob Diamond at a hearing of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

The trouble is, talk like that is cheap unless it is backed up both by action and a genuine change in thinking. Whether the thinking at Barclays has really changed all that much is open to question.

Last week Sir John Sunderland, the chairman of Barclays' remuneration committee, declared that even with the benefit of hindsight he would still have paid Mr Diamond a bonus for 2011.

This was the year in which the bank missed Mr Diamond's own targets and moved him to describe the performance as "unacceptable". What we also now know – with hindsight – is that regulators were at the time uncovering attempts by traders at Mr Diamond's investment bank to fix Libor interest rates.

If you need to remind yourself about just how sickening their behaviour was, go back and read the final decision notice of the Financial Services Authority. And it hasn't been the only scandal to emerge.

For Sir John to make such a statement is fairly incredible in itself, but it needs to be seen in conjunction with his performance. He spoke to the Commission's members as if they were errant schoolchildren who didn't know what they were talking about. It was an astonishing display, and an example of the sort of thinking in banking which has brought us to the current state of affairs.

And yet, after initially saying he didn't want to talk about "history", Barclays' chairman, Sir David (they do like their knighthoods at the top of Barclays) Walker, basically said Sir John was a jolly good chap doing a tough job well.

He also resorted to the tired old line about there being an international market for top British executives (it's scarcely borne out by the facts) and the importance of paying up to recruit and retain top talent. Top talent like Mr Diamond? Not to mention a long list of failed banking executives, some of whom make Mr Diamond seem like a paragon of virtue, and all of whom were held up as being uniquely talented people who might be lured abroad if their employers didn't pay.

Sir David has been sold as a new broom, a man capable of fresh thinking and of helping Mr Jenkins to turn Barclays into the first-class bank which it still has the capacity to be.

I've no doubt that he believes what he says when he talks about the need for reform. But his display suggests that his thinking isn't as far removed from the leading lights of a banking industry that was dashed on the rocks of its own hubris in 2008 as we might have hoped.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003