Simon English: Diamond ducked and dived – but the MPs were lacking punch anyway

 

Outlook Here was Bob Diamond doing his humble act. For a global swinging dick, a £100m, breakfast-in-London, lunch-in-Zurich, dinner-in-New York man, this was always going to be a big ask. Mr Diamond reckons the measure of a company culture is how it behaves when no one is looking. Perhaps the measure of humbleness is not how politely you take questions from the Treasury Select Committee but whether you actually answer them.

Respect isn't the same as courtesy; good manners aren't better than a straight reply. Measured and cool, seemingly concerned to be helpful and always seeking out context when "yes" or "no" was required, this was supposed to be the modest, contrite modern banker.

Mr Diamond would have to be a brilliant actor to carry this off. He may be many things, but not that.

According to his testimony, his career involves other people making moves of which he becomes only fleetingly aware. The bold-as-brass takeover of the remains of Lehman Brothers – a ballsy, tough call that subsequently looks like a master stroke – is described as "a decision the board made".

He is in rooms where things happen, but he can't remember exactly what. Behaviour is "reprehensible", but only with hindsight. At the time it is occurring, well, he just never saw it.

The temptation for MPs to grandstand on such occasions is plainly irresistible, but they seemed to miss the bigger picture.

The committee imagined itself to be forensic lawyers with an understanding of the international bond industry. Some of them probably are lawyers who get money markets, but the effect of the approach was sometimes to leave them lost in detail.

That's playing on Mr Diamond's home turf. No one says he doesn't have a brilliant grasp of technicalities, that he isn't extremely good at his job. The question is whether that job serves to act against the interests of most people.

Questions not asked: shouldn't the bank you built be broken up in the public interest? Do you expect to get another multi-million-pound job shortly? How much of your £100m fortune is due to your lucky position as a financial landlord who gets to collect rent the rest of us have no choice but to pay? Without such a direct attack, Mr Diamond was able to prevaricate as desired.

Get to the point, said the MPs. If it suits me, he pretty much replied. Mr Diamond thinks he is much smarter than the politicians. He is right, it is sad to report. They barely laid a full glove on him.

Can we have a go?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas