After an ill-tempered debate in the House of Commons, a senior Treasury source has leaked its proposal for a ‘dream team’ inquiry into the standards in the banking sector that combines cross-party political representation with a few professional executioners.
Andrew Tyrie MP (Conservative)
Tyrie, who would chair the inquiry, is the only member of the Treasury Select Committee to emerge with his reputation enhanced by Bob Diamond’s appearance. As the only member not to be referred to by their first name by Diamond, Tyrie immediately put Diamond on the defensive with unexpected questions about the FSA’s concerns about Barclays’ culture, and shut down his ‘I love Barclays’ routine several times. Had there beeen 12 fewer MPs grilling Diamond yesterday we would have learned at least 12 times as much.
John Mann MP (Labour)
Labour’s Mr Angry landed more punches than most at the Treasury Select Committee hearing with Bob Diamond (‘You were either complicit, grossly negligent, or grossly incompetent Mr Diamond. Which was it?’). He has agreed to take part in the wider inquiry subject to the condition that he brings his angry face with him to each hearing but drops every second adjective and every third adverb from his questions.
David Laws MP (Lib Dem)
Redemption is nigh for one of the brightest Lib Dems in parliament (although admittedly the competition is not particularly stiff), who lasted a remarkable 17 days as chief secretray to the Treasury in May 2010 before having to resign amid the expenses scandal. A former banker at JP Morgan, Laws has served his penitence on the backbenches and opening village fetes in his Somerset constituency, and has recently been making noises to return to high office, recently arguing that the founding fathers of the Liberal party would be dismayed to see public spending at such a high level in modern Britain.
There is a clear cross-party concensus that – if only to take the heat off quivering politicians – bankers should have to face what Neil Kinnock once described as ‘being bloody kebabed by Paxo’. In other words, the sneeringly incredulous Jeremy Paxman, lead presenter on BBC Newsnight, who once summed up his approach to interviewing as ‘sitting there thinking why is this lying bastard opposite me sitting there lying like a bastard’. Paxman is understood to be keen to beat his previous record of asking the same question 14 times (of Michael Howard in 1997) when Diamond returns for the rematch. Paxman has agreed to tag team with John Humphries from the Today programme through the inquiry.
Robert Jay QC
To paraphrase the late Denis Healey talking of Geoffrey Howe, Diamond must have felt at yesterday’s Treasury Select Committee that he was being ‘savaged by a dead sheep’. The erratic questioning had the remarkable effect of longing to be able to switch over and watch the Leveson inquiry into media standards, where the ruthless Robert Jay’s relish for relentless forensic questioning is directly correlated with the seniority of the subject at whom he is gently lobbing grenades.
Sir David Tweedie
The former chairman of the International Accounting Standards boards is every banker’s worst nightmare, because he is one of those unusual people who finds the footnotes at the back of company accounts fascoinating and actually understands some of the cr@p that banks try to get away with. A rare example of a jovial Scot, he would also bring a much-needed sense of humour to proceedings.