Last edited Fri Jul 6, 2012, 07:10 PM - Edit history (2)
I think I would be reading Larry Elliots pieces in the Guardian not Marina Hyde.
The British press may be a disgrace, British politicians may be grasping and British banks may be run by crooks but not all those faults lie at Britains door.
One of the key things Hyde fails to mention is that key protaganists in some of these scandals such as Rupert Murdoch and Bob Diamond are not British but outsiders who have come to hold key roles in our society. They have sometimes wlelded a great deal of power behind the scenes even though not holding elected office, or even British passports. Most got their entrance into their positions influence in the wake of collapse in confidence in the old British establishment in the 1960s and its usurpation in the 1980s by the new American inspired Thatcherite order.
Nowhere is this better displayed than in the financial sector. Big Bang in 1986 swept away much of of the old City establishment including most of the British stock brokers and merchant banks were largely taken over or bought out by foreign corporations. If you want an analysis of those implications then this Daily Telegraph article is not a bad starting point
In fact the biggest mistake made by the UK is the way it has attempted to become 'competitive' by importing the more ruthless elements of foreign and particulary US business practise to its shores yet neglected to to also bring in the same sort of enforcement processes which countries such as the United States have habitually used to police some of the wilder behaviour of its corporations. At Big Bang the UK completely removed the old broking closed shop that used to run the City of London and the merchant banking sector but at the same time tried to keep the light touch self regulatory 'gentlemans club' rules that were so much a part of the old order. This was a strategy that was doomed to disaster. It failed to realise that the old City establishment was able to self regulate precisely because its restrictive practises on membership etc meant the unoffical blackball could be used to force dodgy traders and bankers into line (ie if you broke the unofficial rules people simply would not do business with you). As a consequence trading in London soon became a free for all. The opportunities offered by the newly open but laxly regulated City was not lost on many foreign financial firms who soon flocked to the UK to carry out ther more dubious trading activities. In that respect much like the English Premier league the City of London has essentially come to be an entity that is largely owned, managed and played by outsiders that for historical reasons just happens to be geographically located in the UK.
I dont think these crises can simply be blamed on national apathy. In fact if the British have a weakness it is a crushing lack of self confidence caused by the collapse of their imperial power in the 20th century which has left them painfully prone to assume that they can not come up with their own solutions to their problems but must import everything from outside, be it economic ideas, corporate practices, fashions, technology, managers and even footballers. It is this desire to be something other than what we really are that is our particular national tragedy