Simon English: A political attack that's unfair on Adair
Friday 19 October 2012
Outlook Is the attack on Adair Turner in today's Treasury Committee Report into the RBS/ABN Amro deal politically motivated?
It is quite easy to think it is. That the authors want to ensure he doesn't become the next Governor of the Bank of England, a job he clearly covets.
The chairman of the committee is the Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, and it seems a fair bet that he doesn't think that the slightly left-leaning, historically pro-Europe Turner is the right man.
The words appearing around his name – "inadequate", for example – seem pointed rather than explanatory. They appear to be written with an eye for news coverage rather than to explain what went wrong or to ensure that in the future bad banks don't take over even worse ones at our expense. The statement also has a go at the Bank of England but doesn't name names. Almost as if they were looking to protect the chances of the deputy governor Paul Tucker of getting the promotion.
The City mostly thinks that Mr Tucker is the right man for the job, and I tend to agree partly because, if nothing else, he knows where the bodies are buried and understands bankers' machinations and motives better than almost anyone.
But it still seems a bit harsh to make Lord Turner carry the can for the fact that Financial Services Authority wasn't up to the job of policing the banks. For one thing, it is likely that no watchdog anywhere could probably scrutinise banks that are simply too big to manage, never mind regulate.
It isn't really Lord Turner's fault that the FSA's remit was inadequate and that RBS was run by a loony.
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