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Letters: Hippocratic oath for bankers? No, just prosecute

These letters appear in the July 30 edition of The Independent

Your report (29 July) that the think-tank ResPublica is proposing that bankers swear a Hippocratic-style oath of good service made me wince.

As a retired financial services compliance officer, I can confirm that the traders responsible for rate rigging and interest rate swap mis-sales, and their senior management, responsible for the oversight of the traders’ actions via the operations of effective risk management systems and controls, would have been individually registered in that capacity with the Financial Conduct Authority and its predecessors. Moreover, each firm (bank) and each candidate, as part of that process, would both have been required to make fitness and propriety declarations, with follow-up checks then performed by the regulators.

The woeful paucity of prosecutions thus far, whether civil or criminal, against those guilty parties, with all of that machinery in place, just makes ResPublica’s suggestion seem all the more risible. 

That said, I am sure that those tens of thousands of entirely blameless back-office financial services employees on below-average wages (yes, they’re “bankers” too), who looked on powerless, and in horror, as their life savings and/or livelihoods were destroyed by the so-called “Masters of the Universe”, would have no qualms whatsoever about signing up.

Jeremy Redman
London SE6


Hit Putin where it really hurts

Your editorial “Own goal” (28 July) is precisely right. The remote prospect of Fifa dumping Russia as host of the 2018 World Cup plays straight to the hands of their keep-fit expansionist President. Sanctions must be targeted where they really hurt. This requires the resolve of the EU as a whole.

Undermining Putin’s power at home requires a body-blow to the Russian economy, with the inevitable knock-on effect on his core support. The logic of arming Russian separatists would almost certainly be lost on middle-class investors watching their portfolios haemorrhage, or captains of industry seeing their businesses collapse due to supply problems.

In the hand-rubbing occupation of redrawing borders, Putin will not listen to Europe, not even to Angela Merkel. If he is to be reined in, then his own people must do it.

Mike Galvin
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Nick Clegg wants the World Cup taken away from Russia in 2018. Four years is a long way off. The downing of the Malaysian plane may not be as significant then and may be overtaken by bigger events, even major wars, who knows? Will Nick Clegg be around to explain to the footballing world why the World Cup was taken away from Russia?

S Matthias
London SE1

So first we had Mr Putin, then President Putin, then “Putin”, and now you give us “dictator” Putin (“The dictator in his labyrinth”, 26 July). That only leaves “brutal dictator” Putin and we can go after him. I must go and buy shares in arms manufacturers and fracking companies. Oh, and renewing Trident is a shoo-in. Well done, one and all.

Colin Burke


Hamas wages a propaganda war

The world, and your publication in particular, seems to have forgotten that Israel is a tiny country surrounded by 300 million Arabs, the majority of whom are pledged to bring about her destruction. Israel is forced to build strong defences and yet, when these work, she is castigated for their success, as if it is unacceptable that Hamas has failed to murder more Israeli civilians.

Hamas know that they cannot win militarily. Their objective is to win the propaganda war, thereby convincing the international community to force Israel to accept their outrageous demands. To win this war they need as high a death count as possible, preferably with hundreds of women and children. That is why they site their missiles in schools, hospitals and heavily populated areas.

Tina Son
Edgware, Middlesex

The images of Gaza published during the recent lull in Israeli bombardment reminded me of similar photographs you published of Homs after the Syrian bombardment there, also directed at “terrorists”.

The invention and perpetuation of an international “war on terror” has allowed any militaristic regime to justify the most heinous war crimes by simply classifying their intended targets as terrorists, and all innocent victims as regrettable collateral damage.

The Israeli assault on the residents of Gaza was the latest but not the last domino to fall in a long chain of events starting with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land outside their internationally recognised borders. Until this original offence is corrected there will surely be no end to the succession of action and reaction from both sides in the conflict.

Peter DeVillez


Scottish vote is about democracy

Mary Dejevsky’s piece on 25 July demonstrates yet again that The Independent, fine newspaper that it is, and its columnists, not to mention the English media as a whole, do not seem to understand Scottish politics.

She states that Alex Salmond is the “chief cause of the current tensions” when in fact it is the collapse of Labour in Scotland, a party that has been seen to be taking its orders from Westminster, that has created this situation, or should I say opportunity?

However this is not an election, it is actually a referendum. This is not an approval poll for Alex Salmond or the SNP, it is a referendum on Scottish independence.

Nor is it about romanticism, as cynical English commentators tell us; it’s about democracy and people living in Scotland having the opportunity to elect governments that will actually represent their interests rather than having governments that they did not vote for imposed on them. This is not a fight for the sake of a fight, it’s a struggle for democracy.

I would ask Mary if she could tell us when David Cameron is going to get off the starting blocks in his defence of the Union. The silence is deafening.

Gareth Harper
Largs, Ayrshire

As part of the UK, Scotland enjoys full diplomatic representation in 267 embassies and 169 trade offices around the world. In contrast, Alex Salmond’s vision is for an independent Scotland to finance around 70 to 90 embassies and 27 trade offices.

As part of the UK, Scots have a respected voice in the UN Security Council, the G7, G8 and G20. We are seen as one of the big players in the EU, not least because the UK is the second biggest contributor to the EU budget. An independent Scotland would never enjoy the same international clout.

Talk of a fairer Scotland, social inclusion, stopping London Tories from pulling Scotland’s strings, cannot hide the divisive political experiment that the SNP has embarked upon.

Scotland, as we have all come to celebrate in the past few days, is a great country. We have achieved greatness as part of the United Kingdom. We have forged our destiny together with our English, Welsh and Northern Irish neighbours, none of whom want us  to go.

Struan Stevenson

The other day I was asked if the comparison between the Greek economy and the Scottish weather would produce a new currency for Scotland called the Dreichma. My response was to say unlikely, for with two fish at the helm, a Salmon(d) and a Sturgeon, it would more likely be chips.

Peter Minshall
Tarbert, Argyll


Bring the people to Westminster

Your editorial (28 July) argues that Ed Miliband’s proposal for a public PMQs is “the wrong answer to the right question” of bridging the gap between the public and the political elite, and that it would be difficult to ensure that the selection of “average” citizens for these sessions was truly representative.

I support Ed Miliband’s proposal, but would go further by bringing “the people” into Parliament directly, by introducing Citizen Senators into a reformed and renamed House of Lords, selected by lot as per jury selection.

They would serve one-year terms and be given training. They would compose 50 per cent of the chamber, with the remainder made up of “Expert Senators” selected by an independent appointments system, and “Political Senators” appointed by the party leaders. The bloc of Citizen Senators would be sworn to consider legislation purely on its merit, eschewing political or other bias, much as jurors are sworn to serve justice alone.

This system would have numerous benefits, including maintaining the admirable expertise of the present House of Lords, providing an antidote to the increasing professionalisation of politics and being truly representative.

John Slinger
Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism, Rugby