Editor-At-Large: Dear Bob Diamond...

 

I was thrilled you've finally realised that you and your high-earning pals are the single most reviled group of "workers" in the UK. Maybe it's because you make huge amounts of money by the click of a mouse and profit by other people's debts, while the rest of us think that work is something that involves an activity, a physical or mental effort, an interaction with a reality rather than an inspired gamble. I was impressed that your speech for the BBC last week asked bankers to become "better citizens" to regain our trust. Not easy – you've been described as "the unacceptable face of capitalism" – so how are you going to reinvent yourself and step up to the challenges facing Britain by creating jobs and helping other people?

At the moment, Bob, bankers seem to think that if they pop up at high-profile charitable events and spend a fortune on auctions and posh dinners, that's all it takes to put something back in modern Britain. Wrong. Most of us also find it patronising and vaguely obscene that the Government is turning to the charitable whims of the ultra-rich to fund new schools and their much-trumpeted Big Society initiatives. I'm not happy you can buy into what should be provided by the state. You will want a return on your investment, so what will it be – even more tax concessions or peerages?

We've already noticed that HMRC offered Goldman Sachs a tax deal while the rest of us further down the food chain wait to be told if we have to pay more because civil servants got their sums wrong. If banks have to be good citizens, Bob, why are they still dragging their feet over lending to small businesses?

If you admit that the anti-capitalist protests taking place all over the world reflect an understandable disenchantment with how the financial industry has failed, why are the owners of Canary Wharf (which houses your bank, Barclays) going to court, putting injunctions in place marking out a sealed area where no one can demonstrate, let alone set up a little tent? The owners of Canary Wharf also plan to hire a PR company to spin their decision to close the square to anyone who doesn't work there. Broadgate in the City has also taken out injunctions to prevent any kind of protest. Doesn't this sound like China, Russia, a totalitarian state? God forbid that a humble group of people who might want to raise a placard or banner, or shout about the obscene gap between the very rich and poor in our society, might be allowed to stand and make their point. Bob, your pals must hate hearing anyone who disagrees with them – otherwise why would these injunctions be in place?

Surely good citizens listen to what the other person says, even if they disagree. And they offer help. In some parts of Britain now, one in four young people have no job, no qualifications and are not receiving any training. They are literally just sitting around doing bugger all. Bob, you and your pals could easily fund apprenticeships, college courses, one-on-one literacy teachers for every single person. If you don't start investing in the next generation then you will see serious social unrest that any number of injunctions will be powerless to prevent.

Finally, Bob, thanks to your gross mismanagement of our money, my generation is now looking forward to living off pensions that are worth 30 per cent less. You've got to put an awful lot back before we'll be impressed by your high-minded rhetoric – especially as your current salary and bonus package are worth about £11m a year. Do you really know what it's like to sit in an unheated room because you can't afford to turn on a radiator? I doubt it.

In your speech you said that banks have done a very poor job of explaining how you contribute to society. That's odd, given the amount of money each bank spends on public relations. We trusted you with our money, and you let us down. Sadly, most of us didn't have cast-iron pensions or such vast savings that when the crunch came we could carry on as before. Now that the economy is stagnant there are few full-time jobs. The cost of food, fuel and heating has soared. Retailers are dreading Christmas. Sadly, Bob, I just don't think you have one little brain cell that connects with the reality of life for most of your Barclays customers.

Your speech was too little, too late. Why not put your money where your mouth is?

Yours in disappointment, Janet

Just when you think a model is talking sense...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if a top model managed to talk about food rationally, normally, without pretending she didn't agonise over every item sitting on her plate?

Gisele Bündchen is wonderfully athletic and healthy, the highest-earning model in the world, married to a top sportsman; her looks exude strength and power. In the latest Vogue she talks enthusiastically about her no-frills childhood in Brazil, and is a great advertisement for staying close to your family, employing four of her five sisters as manager, lawyer, accountant and website designer.

I almost fell for the carefully crafted homespun tale of the simple girl who ended up worth £90m as a result of fronting campaigns for luxury brands such as Versace, Dior and Givenchy, but then I remembered some of her previous faux pas. The most embarrassing was her comment there should be a "worldwide law" compelling mothers to breastfeed their children.

In Vogue, she does it again- claiming that she's from a meat-eating culture, but limits her intake to once every 15 days. At this point, I think fair enough. Then, she's reveals her inner airhead by announcing, "Before I eat any meat I always take one second of silence to put my hands over it and bless it and be grateful at least that it was a life." What about fish? Do they not have souls? Does she say a little prayer every time she snacks on sushi? You couldn't make it up.

Comments