Lib Dems should back a judge-led inquiry into financial scandal

I get why the Tories are opposed to a judge-led inquiry into the scandalous rate-rigging practices employed by Barclays and other banks: their experiences of the Leveson Inquiry show how scandals, even ones that blend across the red/blue parties, have a habit of rebounding on the government of the day.

I get why Labour are in favour of a judge-led inquiry: so complicit were Labour (and Ed Balls in particular) in the catastrophic financial mess of the last few years, of which the banks are just one part, that they are desperate to appear transparent in the hope the inquiry will rebound on the government of the day.

But I don’t get why the Lib Dems are lining up with the Tories to oppose a judge-led inquiry.

I accept there are reasons which make it complicated: such inquiries take time, cost money, run the risk of interfering with parallel prosecutions. Yet similar concerns applied to establishing Leveson, a forensic inquiry for which Nick Clegg deserves much credit.

Leveson happened because it was recognised a parliamentary select committee would be unable to dedicate the time, would lack the necessary expertise, and would be unable to resist partisan conclusions.

The same applies to the financial scandals involving the banks.

And I’m afraid today’s woefully inadequate inquisition of Barclays’ ex-CEO Bob Diamond by the Treasury Select Committee confirms the view that most MPs are out of their depth when it comes to trying to find the right questions to get at the facts that actually matter. Perhaps, if as David Allen Green suggests, MPs were willing to deploy specialist parliamentary counsel to pose questions it might be different.

We need an inquiry which gets beyond the politics

But there is a bigger reason why a judge-led inquiry is important. Indeed, my opening paragraphs are themselves good examples of why those with a political agenda shouldn’t be trusted with getting at the truth: my/our/their agendas will always be mistrusted, not only by those from other parties, but also by the wider public.

We don’t yet know what Leveson will conclude, but the due process Sir Brian’s inquiry has followed has enabled facts to surface, and time and space for better-informed reflection and debate. Does anyone seriously imagine a bunch of MPs will create an equivalent impact?

Attention to date has focused on the bankers, and to some extent unfairly concentrated on Barclays, the first to confess to, but by no means the only bank involved in, misleading practice. An inquiry need not take over-much time bottoming out the banks’ duplicity in rate-rigging: the USA and its department of justice thankfully takes white-collar crime more seriously than do the Brits, and has already done much of the heavy lifting.

What is still needed is to place this behaviour within the context of what politicians expected. For years a convenient blind eye was turned to the excesses of the banking sector because the government was dependent on a debt-fuelled consumer boom to feed its debt-fuelled expansion of the public sector.

That is a reality which is still imperfectly understood and only partially accepted. It is a reality which only a judge-led inquiry can be trusted to tell.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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58 Comments

  • lucas north 4th Jul '12 - 11:02pm

    Not a fan of red Ed but his compromise isn’t too bad

  • Very well argued, Stephen! The coalition won’t be under threat if they vote with Labour for a judicial inquiry, so the Lib Dems need not feel that they’re walking a tightrope of any sort with this.

  • Jonathan Featonby 4th Jul '12 - 11:34pm

    I agree that the Treasury Committee showed that MPs – with a couple of notable exceptions – aren’t capable of forensically questioning a “witness”. However, one thing I’m really unclear on it just what a public inquiry would be designed to do?

    If it’s a case of looking into wrong doing on behalf of the banks and possibly illegal practices, then this would be for the regulators and crime agencies – and as you note Stephen much work has already been done on this on the other side of the Atlantic.

    If there are policy issues to look at, then we’ve already had numerous inquiries into the causes of the crash and had policy recommendations that have come from them. It would also seem that the legislative changes that need to be made after the latest scandal are clear – allow regulators to bring criminal charges (which, incidentally, is also required to help to change the culture within the banks).

    This is a different situation to what lead to the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry. In that instance, something had gone seriously wrong in the relationship between the press, politicians, and the police. I’m not sure that a public inquiry into banking would have a clear remit with definable goals. There are already steps that can be taken – and many are being taken – to improve the banking sector, especially when it comes to increasing high street competition and making it easier to switch banks (I wonder how many customers are currently about to leave Barclays – I suspect it’s worryingly low). I’m also personally a big fan of credit unions – a far better alternative than so-called ‘legal loan sharks’ – and would welcome schemes to provide them with better support and advertising.

  • Malcolm Todd 4th Jul '12 - 11:35pm

    “But I don’t get why the Lib Dems are lining up with the Tories to oppose a judge-led inquiry. ”

    Stockholm syndrome?

  • One reason – Long grass

    If we are to have an expensive long economic enquiry it should include politics they are so intertwined. Why the last governement used PFI to hide debt, why there was no planning for the bust that many normal people could see coming.

    Discussing bnaking culture is pointless, put those who submitted false submissions in front of a jury and see what happens. If you get some convistions the culture will change. THe way to change it is to change the risk reward balance.

  • Tony Dawson 4th Jul '12 - 11:42pm

    “I don’t get why the Lib Dems are lining up with the Tories to oppose a judge-led inquiry.”

    We’re not. It’s just one or two completely out of touch individuals.

  • PSI I think we are getting to a point where many (“entwined”, as you put it) aspects of the establishment’s practices are under fire for corruption, benefiting of certain groups of people – usually themselves and their friends. I can only assume that the lawyers and the judicial system will at some stage come into the firing line. However, on the Mastermind principle “I’ve started, so I’ll finish”, we should continue with the most forensic examination possible. Perhaps this is the intended function of the Coalition, to investigate as many aspects of establishment behaviour as poss, and then submit rival solutions to the manifold problems to the electorate at a General Election!

  • Richard Dean 4th Jul '12 - 11:57pm

    I think the Treasury Select Committee did well today. They had few facts at their dispoal, but did manage to extract a few explanations that could be assessed and maybe revisited later. Their task is to form an opinion rather than prove a case, and the opinion that the Chair later presented on Sky News seemed to show that the committee aren’t fools at all.

    Although there are similarities with Leveson, yes, there may be an improtant difference. A lot of banking activity is international and involves confidence – would these aspects make a difference to the type of enquiry that is appropriate?

  • Surely it is inconceivable that the Liberal Democrats – a party that prides itself on a commitment to transparency & accountabiltiy in public life – would collude with the Tories to prevent a full public inquiry? How on earth could that be reconciled with Liberal values?

    I think the vote on Thursday is full of danger for the Lib Dems. It might appear to be just a vote about process, but it risks the Party being seen as the people that fell in behind the Tories to prevent the wider investigation of our banks that we really need. We know the Tories – funded by the City – don’t want that. But why on earth would Lib Dem MPs damage their reputation by colluding with them? Why the slavish loyalty to the Tories on an issue that has nothing to do with Coalition cohesion?

  • Peter Watson 5th Jul '12 - 2:35am

    @Stephen Tall
    “I don’t get why the Lib Dems are lining up with the Tories …”
    Simple answer – it’s what we do these days.

    @Malcolm Todd
    “Stockholm syndrome” :-)
    Suddenly so much Lib Dem behaviour makes sense – especially for Clegg and Alexander.

  • John Roffey 5th Jul '12 - 6:46am

    @ Malcolm Todd

    ‘Stockholm syndrome’ – this is a kinder explanation of NC’s actions than I have previously offered. This from yesterday’s Mail does seem to support such a view. He may be intelligent and measure up by today’s superficial values, but he hasn’t had a high pressure job that would prepare him for the role he has taken on.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2168427/Nick-Clegg-laments-tough-job-It-feels-like-Ive-lobotomy.html

    Lib/Dems tend to be overly compassionate, here though it will be a kindness when he is sacked as leader – he simply has not got what is needed to rescue the Party from oblivion.

  • This should be Judge led for two reasons.

    Firstly, it is the right thing to do. If the press warranted a judge led enquiry then a system that directly affects most individuals in the way the banking system has certainly does. Osborne see this as a chance to beat Labour, and it may turn out to be so. But to have a joint committee approach without even bothering to discuss it with the opposition prior to announcing it shows how partisan he wants it to be. If this approach must be followed a discussion over s unable Chair would have been appropriate.

    Secondly, it is good politics. Labour votes will be needed to get Lords reform through and many are still smarting over Hunt. If Lib Dem MP’s don’t support an enquiry, and we all know that calls in the past for enquiries of this type have been supported by the party, then more bad feeling would be caused and wavering Labour MP’s will either stay away or worse see it as a chance to inflict defeat on the Government. Of course we know that not a single Tory vote would be lost on that issue so it would be a direct defeat for the Lib Dems.

  • It’s evident from yesterday that MPs are not capable of investigating banking, they have neither the knowledge nor, for the most part, the inquisitorial skills. Also conflicts of interest are rife, yesterday’s committee had three former members of Barclays on it! At the very least they should have recused themselves from questioning Diamond. Not to mention that former directors of Barclays have been appointed by Tories to various boards overseeing their (or the coalition’s) policies .

    Labour for all their faults, and inherent culpability, are at least giving the impression of trying to seriously solve the problems in banking. Despite partisan attacks on Ed Balls, which will fail, btw, as he wasn’t in the treasury when Barclay’s were committing their fraud.

    What is it about Balls that winds up the Coalition? Is it because every one of his economic predictions about coalition policy have come true?

  • Philip Welch 5th Jul '12 - 8:17am

    Why not adopt the same procedure as for the riots, ie send in the police to arrest everybody remotely connected, and let them defend themselves in court?.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Jul '12 - 8:54am

    Also agree 100% with Stephen.

    It needs to go further. There has never been an inquiry into the operation of the Central Bank, other regulators and the Treasury running up to ‘the credit crunch’, interest rate policy at that time, their reaction around the time of the Lehmans collapse, the instructions given to (especially) RSB and Lloyds TSB, and monetary policy subsequently.

    So, both the personnel and the systems (e.g. but not exclusively inflation targeting) have never been ‘tested’ against performance, yet we continue to use the same system, based on the same theory through the same people.

    If this had been a civil airliner crash, it would have been a priority. If the personel and the mechanism were at fault then, surely they are probably at fault today.

  • Steve Tall….And I’m afraid today’s woefully inadequate inquisition of Barclays’ ex-CEO Bob Diamond by the Treasury Select Committee confirms the view that most MPs are out of their depth when it comes to trying to find the right questions to get at the facts that actually matter…………….

    Agreed! The fact that it’s Labour calling for it shouldn’t, but probably will, influence our MPs ( equating the Hunt vote with Labour’s Iraq).
    Every Tory spokesperson I’ve heard has had one agenda, “Blame Labour”. If, as it will, the proposed Parliamentary enquiry devides along party lines its real purpose (investigate banking) will become secondary to the ‘blame game’.

    For any who believe that MPs can do as good a job as a judicial one; consider Leveson. Contrast that enquiry with the investigation by MPs which ran in parallel. In Leveson searching questions were asked of the media and members of both parties; the MPs were devided on party lines even where one might imagine that all sides wanted the same outcome.

  • Brian Robinson 5th Jul '12 - 9:22am

    The two possibilities for an inquiry are being talked of as alternatives. Either it is to be judge-led, lengthy and able to hear evidence under oath, or parliamentary, swift, but subject to the limitations of MPs’ ability to question those who appear.

    But why not both? The former would take time to set up anyway, and the latter could be finished in time for additions to be made to the forthcoming legislation — which is the main point in its favour.

  • I’m not hopeful that the views on here will be represented by the way MPs vote tonight judging by Nick Cleggs body language at PMQ’S yesterday. So yet again the MP’s will troop through the Tory lobby to defend the indefensible … or maybe they could bravely abstain a la Hunt as that gives the Tories what they want anyway .

  • I have no problem with select committee route, as has been said, there are other investigations going on already. Should the select committee come up with anything worthwhile, then that will assist criminal and law making actions.
    This is not about showing we are diferent from the Tories but an abstension on the basis that this is a battle between both other reprehensible parties could be the sensible way forward.

  • Jonathan Featonby 5th Jul '12 - 9:59am

    I’ve just seen the Labour Motion for today:

    “Professional Standards in the Banking Industry
    That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should commission an independent, forensic, judge-led public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 into the culture and professional standards of the banking industry, to be completed within 12 months, to be paid for by the banks, and that any such inquiry should provide an interim report and recommendations, by the end of 2012, covering the lessons learnt from the scandal of manipulation of the LIBOR.”

    Two things – firstly it states than an interim report and recommendations should be published by the end of this year – that seems very quickly when you consider that the inquiry nuts and bolts need to be put in place and evidence taken. Secondly, it would be paid for by the banks. Which banks? And how?

  • Presumably we support an MP led inquiry because of some underwhelming carrot being dangled in front of us, lets call it “Lords Reform”.

  • Gareth Jones 5th Jul '12 - 10:26am

    couldn’t we have both? A parliamentry inquiry into the LIBOR scandal AND a judge led rewiew in the banking sector?

  • A judge led enquiry, stuffed with wall to wall QC.s, threats of judicial review, refusal of witnesses to speak under oath because of the fear of criminal prosecution, a leagl bill in the millions to report 3 years after and be buried with a stake through the heart.

  • I think the public are flat out weary, and inquiry fatigued. They believe that everyone involved in this despicable mess is ‘up to it’, in one form or another.
    The public simply cannot understand, why the only enquiry that would sort this out, is not being carried out. That necessary enquiry, should start at 4am with a knock on a dozen or more front doors, and continue for 72 hours down the nick.
    (It might also be worth contracting the investigative process out, to the West Yorkshire police, who consider water boarding as ‘the easy way’.)

  • Stephen W,………………………..As we seem to know so much why bother with any enquiry?

    Cogload…..Where do you get 3 years? The initial remit is 12 months.

    Anyone who believes, after hearing Diamond’s input, that a bunch of MPs won’t have ‘rings run round them’ by bankers’ ‘double-speak’ is sadly mistaken.
    As for criminal prosecution; is anyone REALLY certain that this was a ‘criminal action’? The US, which is not slow to use the full force of their law, settled on an out-of-court fine.

  • Might I also suggest that the first 4am knock, should be on the door of the only person who is still silent on the matter.

  • Is there a deal to be done here? No-one more than Bob Diamond celebrated the deferment until 2018 of the Vickers recommendations. As a condition for parliamentary support we should demand that these be brought forward for implementation in the public interest, and before 2015.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Jul '12 - 11:49am

    You are right Stephen. An inquiry into LIBOR fixing or indeed investment bank culture is a rank piece of political football. Those who set the regulatory environment failed and the regulators themselves failed. Action could and should be taken now.

    But as we write or read this there are ten or so individuals enjoying a cup of coffee before sitting down to ‘direct’ the country’s monetary policy. Their colleagues in Europe are at a similar meeting. They are largely academics and Central Bank insiders.

    Their decisions are the prime cause of the difficulties that Europe and the UK face today.

    Although the personnel has changed, their collective decision taking, their reasoning and their interpretation of their task has been disastrous for the economy since the early Noughties. This has been compounded by political failure to change the directions given to them – their mission.

    If they got it wrong during this period, we would be fools to allow them to continue at the wheel. Yet we do. And even more foolish to judge the efficacy of monetary policy based on their mistakes. Yet we are.

  • The reason we need a “Judge” led enquiry is to avoid the total shambolic and partisan response from the Culture Media and sport select committee. After Months and months of investigating and interviewing and huge expense. The Tories could not bring themselves to agree with even half of the committee’s findings and used partisan voting between them to limit the damage to “Murdoch”

    For that reason alone and to avoid yet another parliamentary farce, we need an independent Judge led enquiry

  • George Osborne states that a judge led enquiry is not needed because…Quote “What would it say about Parliament if we fail to investigate ourselves?”
    What a short memory ….’Liam Fox’, ‘Jeremy Hunt’….

  • Politicians, or those with deeply held political views and beliefs, sometimes, simply miss ‘the wood for the trees’.
    Offense 1. ~ Nicolas Robinson, 23, of south-east London, stole a bottle of water from Lidl, during to 2011 riots, and was sentenced to 6 months prison.
    Offense 2. ~ Barclays, and 16 other banks fraudulently rig the Libor rate, under the watchfull eye of the Bank of England, and ……………………………………….. ?
    It has always been understood that money buys power, but it is now very self evident that (a lot of) money, will buy you immunity from the law also.

  • Oh well it looks like the Tories win the day, I’d say the coalition but it’s getting hard to tell the difference. This has affected so many more of the population than media ethics, even the attorney general thinks this approach may affect other legal routes, and having seen some of the debate it is clearly going to be political point scoring. A proper enquiry is needed into the whole banking industry, this will not be it.

    Don’t complain when points are scored in the other direction. Like a faithful puppy with an abusive owner it seems Clegg keeps going back for more.

  • Steve Way5th Jul ’12 – 6:15pm………………..Don’t complain when points are scored in the other direction. Like a faithful puppy with an abusive owner it seems Clegg keeps going back for more……………..

    The more I see of this ‘coalition’ the more I’m reminded of the old H.M.V. logo.; a whistle from Cameron and the parliamentary LibDem party moves into ‘Pavlovian’ mode.

  • The Conservatives attempt to play politics with the future of this country in terms of trying to blame Labour for all the financial problems of the City and banks which have been left to run wild is a total disgrace. It was Thatcher and the Conservatives that deregulated the City in the first place. Conservatives and Labour are both culpable. The problem is the deregulation and the Big Bang that the Conservatives started. There is the source of the dysfuncition and greed. The City and bankers have showed t hat they cannot be trusted.

    The Conservatives success in a MP led enquiry will be a white wash which will absolve the political and banking class of blame and leave unresolved the problems of the City and the greedy dysfunction that is bringing the countries to its kness,

    Tell me the Liberal Democrats didn’t go along with the Tories on this Issue ? And that they are not trying to pin all the blame on Labour of the terrible things that are happening in the City ?

    Tell me that the dysfunctional greed in the City will be challenged. That poor practises in the city will be stopped and poor behaviour punished.

    Oh no, The Liberal Democrats voted wit h the Conservaties and I have just seen Danny Alexander on C4 news. Indistinguishable from a conservative pinning all the blame on Labour.

    A real opportunity of turning around the Financial culture of this country has been lost.

    Playing politics whilst our country goes to ruin.

    I am so angry and disillusioned at how this country operates and the lack of political will to improve things.

  • A strange dichotomy emerging in this debate (and thread) which suggests ‘Judge-led’ equals, free, fair, learned and transparent, while ‘parliament-led’ equals biased, partial, incompetent and corrupt. If that is the extent of our feeling about parliament ‘s ability to do anything useful and honest, lets just call in the technocrats now to run the country and have done with it.
    I agree with those above who say we know what the problems are and that there are a number of meaningful solutions, including bringing forward the Vickers recommendations and the fraud squad to feel a few collars.

    If the parliament -led enquiry is going to include both Mps and peers, my vote would be for Matthew Oakeshott to be on there for the Lib Dems.

  • The Libor rigging scam had already become a way of life three years earlier, but in 2008, when everything hit the fan, the powers that be, said, lets crank it up, and with a bit of luck, the world won’t notice that our banks are broke.
    And they still are broke.

  • “If that is the extent of our feeling about parliament ‘s ability to do anything useful and honest, lets just call in the technocrats now to run the country and have done with it.”

    Osbourne today refused, in the house, to substantiate claims he made about Balls. He decided this approach without consulting the opposition then made play for cross party support, he chose a conservative to chair it (alongside what should already be a pretty full job), and within the debate he is making accusations against the opposition.

    This is partisan, even if his unsubstantiated claims are true having them investigated in a political process is not appropriate. This should be judge led with real powers to ensure compliance. The public has only marginally more trust in parliament then in bankers. Both have spent too long at the trough lately and if there is a link it should be investigated and reported on independently.

    As for the argument that we know what the problems are, we did not know about Libor until recently, who knows what other problems await.

    The same arguments used to justify the media enquiry are being turned 180 degrees to deny this…..

  • It can only be a matter of time before legal and judicial systems are also implicated in establishment scandals.

  • “For years a convenient blind eye was turned to the excesses of the banking sector because the government was dependent on a debt-fuelled consumer boom to feed its debt-fuelled expansion of the public sector. ”

    Please, please, please can you stop repeating this simplistic nonsense!

  • Paul in Twickenham 6th Jul '12 - 10:07am

    There is an excellent synopsis of the significance of LIBOR manipulation that is available on zerohedge : http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-07-05/biggest-financial-scam-world-history

    Note in particular – as I described in a previous posting – that the largest impact is on the derivatives market – which has a notional value that is $100′s of TRILLIONS – and that the LIBOR scandal directly relates to the swaps fiasco on SME loans, as well as the cost of local government bonds across the USA.

    Matt Taibi (who famously described Goldman Sachs as a “vampire squid ramming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”) calls the LIBOR rigging scandal “the mega scandal of all mega scandals”.

    I do not believe that a “short, sharp” parliamentary inquiry is good enough here. Capital markets can only function when there is confidence. All confidence has now gone and the complete lack of reaction to the co-ordinated central bank interventions yesterday is evidence that the markets no longer believe the policy makers. Having policy makers sit as judge and jury will convince no-one any more.

    Labour have got this one right, even if for the wrong reasons. We need a rapid instigation of a root-and-branch review of what has happened. It must all be in public. It must be aggressively executed. It must result in policy actions. It must result in criminal prosecutions.

  • David Allen 6th Jul '12 - 2:25pm

    The banks run riot, and Osborne and Balls show no interest in anything other than tearing lumps out of each other. The Lib Dems seem to have nothing useful to say.

    The big argument is about elections and boundaries, with the Tories and Lib Dems trying and perhaps failing to stitch up something that helps them both win more often.

    We’re in the 1920s/30s Weimar Republic. All the conventional parties are completely discredited. So all we need now is for a Hitler to come along….

  • ………………The Lib Dems seem to have nothing useful to say……………………..

    I’m hoping thatTory backbenchers DO scupper Lords’ Reform. Perhaps then, for the first time, Clegg ‘et al’ might find some backbone and vote against Cameron on something (please, on anything)…

  • I see the Liberal Democrat MP’s have backed the Tories for parliamentary led enquiry. This is deeply disappointing. It is obvious that the majority of the public were in favour of an independent enquiry and have little faith in MP’s ability to lead an enquiry, particularly after their shambolic questioning of Bob Diamond. It is unclear to me as to why the Lib Dem MP’s feel that just because they are in coalition that they have to slavishly support the Tories on every occasion. Have they not a mind of their own? If they were not in coalition, how would they have voted? It is likely they would have voted for a judge led independent enquiry. I think it will be difficult for the public at the next election to decide on the difference between a Liberal Democrat and a Tory candidate, based on the Liberal Democrats performance whilst in Government.

  • @ Liberal Eye

    I think you should avoid believing every grandiose claim you read on line, I have read the article you refer to:

    http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/libor-rigging-the-slog-reveals-why-the-enquiry-must-be-judicial/

    There is nothing in there which makes a convincing case that either ICAP or Tullets were involved in LIBOR manipulation, just general accusations.

    Also remember LIBOR stands for London InterBANK Offered Rate. ICAP and Tullets are Inter-Dealer Brokers not banks. There is the accusation that they are their to provide anonymity, this is not the primary purpose they engage in two types of broking name give-up and matched principle. Name give up is not anonymous at all. Matched principal provides anonymity to the counterparties not from the regulators, and no counterparty would think that they did.

    The article lacks accuracy it states that Terry Smith “… support or work for the Conservative Party” but provides no evidence. The author then refers to Derek Tullett (the founder of Tullet Prebon) and claiming that this is a connection, a ridiculous stretch. I think Terry Smith stood for the Referendum party in 1997, but not the Tories.

    Terry Smith often seems a bit nuts but he does occasionally talk sense like his calls for criminal prosecutions of those involved in the LIBOR manipulation.

  • Sam Rushworth 7th Jul '12 - 9:55pm

    Couldn’t resist doing an Osborne and flinging round unevidence accusations against Ed Balls could you? What I find hilarious is that the Lib Dems went into the 2001 election criticising Labour for failing to invest in public services and telling voters a Lib Dem government would spent more. In 2005 they promised to match Labour’s spending (with a few populists freebies thrown in. In 2010 the Lib Dems had the same deficit reduction plan as Labour and a pledge to cut tuition fees. Throughout most of Labour’s time in office Lib Dems attacked them for ‘over-regulating’. And now here you are with your 20:20 hindsight, the “whateveryouwant party” reinvent themselves as fiscally responsible and attack Labour at every turn – easy to do when you have no record to look at.}

    The truth is that if Labour had listened to the Lib Dems Britain would not have paid so much of its debt off between 1997 and 2001. It would have borrowed much more since 2001. Oh, and we’d be in the Euro.

  • Sorry to come late to this discussion. Busy with by-election.

    What do we elect MPs for? Isn’t it to call the government, the judiciary and others to account amongst other things?

    This banking crisis is deeply political. It should be investigated by people who understand politics and how we got into this mess. Judges – who are appointed by the sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister after appropriate discussions and come in the main from a very small section of society- are simply not the right people for this. If we support a judge led enquiry are we not saying that MPs can’t do the job they were elected for?

    Belittling MPs has become a national sport and we should not be part of it. Many of the major changes in our country have followed investigations by MPs. Did not the downfall of Murdoch start with the parliamentary enquiry, long before Levenson.

    I am appalled and ashamed that Liberal Democrats are running down parliament in this way

  • Mickft8th Jul ’12 – 8:50pm………………What do we elect MPs for? Isn’t it to call the government, the judiciary and others to account amongst other things?………………

    Like abstaining instead of acting morally?

  • jedibeeftrix9th Jul ’12 – 1:33pm…………….@ Jason – “So why then have prominent Liberal Democrats threatened to withdraw co-operation on boundary changes if the Tories oppose Lords reform? Strong evidence of there being a deal I would say. Or perhaps you’d prefer “tacit understanding”?”
    You may be correct, in which case one would have to chuckle at the massive irony of a party engaging in voter-opaque blackmail whilst complaining about the lack of legitimacy in our other government functions.

    Jedi…That wasn’t my quote, however, my post…jason5th Jul ’12 – 3:53pm…George Osborne states that a judge led enquiry is not needed because…Quote “What would it say about Parliament if we fail to investigate ourselves?”
    What a short memory ….’Liam Fox’, ‘Jeremy Hunt’….

    Clearly ,George O saw nothing untoward in his statement..

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