Simon Carr: Where are the whips when a dose of real punishment is needed?

The bankers will never forget they were bailed out and got a £14bn bonus

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The Independent Online

We were all searching the Statement for innuendo, considering what the blogs were saying about that £350-per-session dominatrix. A "race to the bottom" was mentioned. The Basel rules sounded promising. And there was indeed a "stand in the corner" moment from our old friend Ed Balls

"For the part I played I am deeply sorry," he said. It looks like an apology when you see it written down, but as nannies used to say: "I want you to say you're sorry AND MEAN IT."

Balls was apologising for his part in the collapse of the world economy. "You NAUGHTY City minister! How DARE you behave like that to Mr Glass and Mr Steagall! I'll abolish you, young man, I'll repeal you good and proper! I'll regulate you in a way you'll remember the rest of your LIFE."

Ed Balls didn't sound sorry, he sounded defiant; as though he was goading the Chancellor into taking the blame for the banking collapse. George was unrepentant. He had his "flexible ring fence" and his "bigger cushions" and his infusion of "long termism" . If we trust Sir Peter Tapsell – and who doesn't – the Chancellor has resisted the banking lobby's most determined assault on its privileges.

But the missing ingredient is, actually, whipping. Capitalism only works when those who transgress are punished and those who transgress badly are punished severely. But the lesson the bankers will never forget is that they were bailed out and got a £14bn bonus.

Sajid Javid gave his personal testimony of the decline in standards when Glass-Steagall was repealed. This was, for new readers, a course in compulsory capitalism for you and me. The banks took our money and stuck it all on Red in the belief that Red would always turn up. When they lost, they looked around accusingly and we paid up (and haven't stopped paying). Maybe these reforms will prevent that or maybe not.

But it's going to take eight years. When everything happens so quickly why does everything take so long?

Still, it was nice to see them enjoying themselves. Alistair Darling smiled and even chuckled when his book – Back From the Brink – was mentioned. I don't think I ever apologised to him for saying those terrible things about nicking George Osborne's inheritance tax proposals. But oh dear, here we are with no more room.





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