Lord Storey: A captainless ship - Britain's banking industry
Firstly, I will have to declare an interest in that my father-in-law was a bank manager at the local National Westminster bank in the Dingle.
Much like Captain Mainwaring of Dad's Army, he knew and was known in his local community and was given the status and resources to support customers and local businesses.
Some may say they were halcyon days. My question is - what went so terribly wrong?
Today, we are predictably reaping the consequences of the 1980s when the Government of the day fervently extolled the rampant driving force of greed in stimulating the market. This was the market that couldn't be bucked, except that it was constantly being bucked by those who understood how to do it better than the Government; a new generation of bankers.
Before and after Thatcher's 'Big Bang' reforms, older generations of financiers like my father-in-law, with careers-worth of practical business experiences to pass on to their successors were being made redundant. With the 'down-sizing' of companies and trampling of traditions, the City was soon being run by amoral yuppies with little or no management experience, possessing no collective memory of the achievements already made. Harry Enfield's 'loadsamoney' mantra was adopted and taken all too seriously.
Company loyalty was all but dead. You'd be mocked if you said you were thinking of obtaining a tranche of shares on the basis of how a company operated, (as well on the basis of its products and services). Shares passed in and out of peoples' hands in seconds based solely upon the speculation of price movements. And today, Blackberry-wielding 'specialists' in the financial powerhouses and hedge funds spend their time gambling at their Bloomberg screens, making and losing vast fortunes at the click of a button. Companies are seemingly the playthings of speculation, as near-instantaneous trading continues to erode the relationship between investor and company.
The wellbeing and reputation of the industry couldn't be further from their minds on those in the City. But what about those in politics? Capitalism has been ailing for more than thirty years and the light-touch period of the New Labour years encouraged too many politicians to turn a collective blind eye to the decline. Nothing was tangible during the delusional boom years, nothing was real.
Markets have been captainless ships, sailing in a sea of mercury for far too long. Hundreds of people have had their warnings ignored by those who could have stopped the rot. As usual, it's the poorer 99% of the world that suffer the most, not the 'pigs' who continue to fatten themselves at our expense. Today, banking reform is at the forefront of the agenda - but will the current crisis change anything? Will it be 'business as usual'?
Lord Storey is a former leader of Liverpool council, you can follow him on twitter HERE.