Tuesday, December 16, 2008

David Cameron on the ‘failure of moral leadership’

It is heartening indeed to hear David Cameron talk of a ‘day of reckoning’ for those responsible for the financial mess in which we find ourselves. He says that an enquiry is necessary ‘in order to send the right message about our country's values’. He insists that it is a ‘failure of moral leadership’ on behalf of Gordon Brown not to have already done so.

Politicians increasingly operate as though there were no Judgement Day in this life, and certainly none in the next. And while they may dismiss the latter as superstitious folly, the absence of the former ought to concern every democrat and all who are remotely concerned with such outdated notions as justice, liberty or fairness.

But like a wise and learned archbishop (not yet quite oxymoronic), Mr Cameron has climbed into his pulpit (Thomson Reuters in London) and delivered a fine sermon on individual morality and political ethics. While the pews may have been full of the undiscerning and ignorant (or indeed empty as they attend to more urgent matters of Christmas), for those with ears to hear, it was possibly the most important speech he has made since, err, well, for a very long time indeed.

As this Labour government dies and Gordon Brown atrophies, to the masses are bequeathed a frightening inheritance of colossal debt, negative equity and perpetual mortgage. Mr Cameron observes that the financial services industry has had its name ‘blackened’. And by association the United Kingdom and the City of London have also had their reputations sullied.

But instead of promising the earth, or vacuous ‘change’, or some vague notion that things will be better under the Conservatives, Mr Cameron has called for retribution against those who are responsible for financial wrongdoing. They must, he says, be held to account: ‘There should be a day of reckoning. A day when we would not flinch from spelling out the rightful consequences of irresponsible behaviour.’

Enter the spirit of Amos, Hosea, Joel, Micah...

This is good and wholesome stuff – a cause-and-effect theme straight out of Proverbs, and a promise and warning of judgement consistent with the message of the prophets of old.

Mr Cameron said there should not be ‘one law for the rich’ and another for everyone else. Thus distancing himself from the perception - however unfair – that the Conservatives simply ‘looked after their own’ and left the poor to fend for themselves. By demanding justice for the poor and punishment for the rich and powerful who have exploited those poor, Mr Cameron has shown an authentic streak of religio-political righteousness. He notes in the US that ‘no stone is being left unturned’ in their investigations into financial impropriety, particularly in the mortgage industry. The FBI has deployed 177 agents to investigate the big financial institutions, and the hedge-fund manager Bernard Madoff has been charged with fraud. In the UK, one is struck by the alarmingly complacent approach being adopted by the Government or by any investigating authority. And so Mr Cameron asks:

"In the home of capitalism, a sense of fair play is dramatically in evidence. Why aren't we doing the same in Britain? Doctors who behave irresponsibly get struck off. Bankers who behave irresponsibly should face professional consequences. And, for sure, if anyone is found to have behaved criminally they must be prosecuted. Are the government seriously saying that nothing untoward could have happened over here? How can anyone believe that in the worst financial crisis of our lifetime no proper and thorough investigation needs to happen? If we're going to build a strong and fair society, individuals must carry the consequences of their own actions - regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what their background is."

This is coherent Conservatism to the core. He articulates personal responsibility in the context of corporate ethics and social philosophy. If the poor are to be liberated from state oppression to take responsibility for their own decisions, then a fortiori should the rich and powerful not be shielded from state retribution when their criminality and negligence have dire consequences for society’s most vulnerable. A government which prosecutes the benefit cheat to reclaim a few thousand pounds is acting justly because it is taxpayers’ money which is stolen. But such a government must ensure that it also prosecutes the bank directors in order to reclaim the millions and billions they have purloined from depositors and (now) the taxpayers, for the law should be applied fairly and equally. The alternative is moral hazard and social and economic chaos.

Pleasure, money and power present challenges to sincere moral judgements, and conspire to ensure that such judgements are not always determined by the goodness of the reasons. What is this goodness? What is this reason? What is the Christian understanding of human and social relationships and what is that God requires of us in those relationships? That we love our neighbour, certainly, but also that charity towards them goes beyond, but always includes justice. An adequate regard for justice always involves not only a concern that justice be done and injustice prevented or remedied, but also resistance to and, where possible, the abolition of institutions that systematically generate injustice and the punishment of those who perpetuate the evil.

We do well to honour those Christians who have comprehended what charity and justice required: John Newton, William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Edith Stein, Maximilian Kolbe, Franz Jägerstetter. But the need for the eradication of injustice is ongoing.

And David Cameron has just placed himself firmly on the side of the righteous.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Voyager said...

White Collar Fraud has always received lenient treatment in the UK though Clarence Hatry did get hard-labour back in the 1930s.

It is a time to have trials like Enron, Worldcom, and start jailing fraudsters and those guilty of malfeasance for 10-20 years. Unfortnunately the SFO does not have the quality of lawyers that the DA system can muster in the USA

The British prosecution system is highly political in a central government way whereas the US system is simply political - so the big donors to politicians get away with fraud and malfeasance. This time however the realm is shaking to its foundations and unless a Reckoning takes place the country will slide towards disintegration as trust collapses completely

16 December 2008 at 08:36  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

We ought not overlook the sapping role that Regulation has had to play in this dreadful situation.

It is superficially attractive, however when it is undertaken either inexpertly, inadequately, or half heartedly, the outcome is especially bad.

First it provides a fig leaf of protection in a complex and fast moving financial environment.

Thus it removes the sense of needing a personal/corporate degree of diligent enquiry.

Third, and worst of all, it essentially underwrites the whole edifice at the expense of the taxpayer who never understood it, and was never actually consulted in specific terms as to whether they wanted to accept such collosal risks.

No bookmaker would accept a bet without a pretty good understanding of the odds yet no sooner does someone of the Left call for " more Regulation" than the rest of us find ourselves with an unquantified and probably unknowable degree of liability on the back of public service regulators who are scarcely able to offer the degree of protection that the assumed responsibility requires on our behalf.

Does anyone think the Banks would have touched many of these complex derivative instruments had they not had the uncomprehending backing of regulatory approval?

You can put this in a simple proposition.

The little Bank manager depicted by Arthur Lowe in Dad's Army would have been far too decent and astute to have lent in this fashion. Captain George Mainwaring did not need a Regulator to spot a crock of **** - so how come all these MBA Whizz kids could't? The answer is of course that with the taxpayer underwriting any deficiency through the inevitable failures of a regulatory system the Whizz kid could take whatever risks he chose confident that he and his kind would not bear the loss in any personally unacceptable way

16 December 2008 at 09:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale.

I have yet to see any evidence that Cameron's moral compass is any more reliable than that of Gordon Brown. Whilst he attends church on a Sunday he said to an aide that his faith was a little bit like listening to Magic radio in the Chilterns. Sometimes it was there and sometimes it was'nt.

Of the Old Testament prophets, the one who seems to speak most to the current state of Britain is Haggai. Unless we follow the advice of Haggai as a first step, nothing else will fall into place, despite the best efforts of Cameron.

16 December 2008 at 09:27  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Does anyone think the Banks would have touched many of these complex derivative instruments had they not had the uncomprehending backing of regulatory approval?

I was unaware that derivatives had any regulatory approval simply because they were not natural, were traded among "sophisticated investors" and hence were not a retail product subject to SEC scrutiny.


Most UK mutual funds are banned for US investors under SEC regulations, but "sophisticated investors" can do their own due-diligence before investing in private transactions such as derivatives - and Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, Lehmann Bros, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, RBS, are classed as "sophisticated investors"

The problem was the 1998 Banking Act which reduced the reserve requirements on UK banks to make them the least prudent in the G7. Had Britain operated proper monetary base supervision none of this would have happened.

The simple truth is that we have TOO MANY banks and they looked for high margins to cover high fixed costs by seeking out speculative and synthetic risk.

Had London not been synonymous with the City-Westminster Nexus we would have had a proper economic policy which did not require Britain to be a giant Gibraltar offering safe haven for speculative capital flows to be laundered into new vehicles and profiting 'on the turn'

Instead of being a manufacturing nation Britain is a transactions nation selling and trading assets and intangibles for a spread. It is Hermann Hesse and the Glass Bead Game.

Britain did not have regulation because its status was as an offshore island where English-speakers could circumvent US SEC regulation

16 December 2008 at 09:57  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace,

"And David Cameron has just placed himself firmly on the side of the righteous."

Whilst G Brown remains firmly on the side of the lefteous.

16 December 2008 at 11:32  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

If it were all true it would be a marvelous thing. We are in the mess we are in, which is nothing less than moral chaos, because our leaders have played the most extreme and blatant display of amorality that could be played.

The people, those who are still able to feel some sense of hope, are forced to choose between 'directions' of left right and centre, while all the time trying to decipher some clue of reality from the perpetual lies spewed out from the players.

If a new player came along and spoke from the heart about all the things that we know are going so helplessly wrong, I think he would spark an awakening. Look what Obama did, and yet we all know over here what an empty vessel he is. The Americans are doomed to fail, they will never ever be able to change voluntarily, the process of change it's self will be forced upon them. But can WE change voluntarily, this is the question I ask myself?

The conclusion for me is, not until we come out of denial, and that is virtually unforeseeable, especially when you consider how deep rooted in the psyche of the nation, all the lies have been planted. you only have to listen to people, both in the world around you, and in the world of BBC make believe.

We want more money to continue along the road to hell, thats all we seem to care about. You conservatives swear by your Adam Smith Holy Bible of free market enterprise and The Wealth of Nations. You are destroying the world, you are not making the world a better place, it has become a miserable world of slavery and bureaucratic nonsense.

You want me to believe that DC has suddenly seen the light? I do not hear any words being spoken by anyone which even comes close to suggesting that at last someone has woken up to the reality of our pathetic situation. I just hear more of the same: left right and centre, three ways to hell.

16 December 2008 at 12:05  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

I have something to say about the verse in scripture which says "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's"

People have been told how to interpret this incorrectly. The truth of this statement is obvious only on a personal level. Jesus knew that each individual will interpret this at their own level of understanding based on their own level of faith.

Who can seriously consider that even the smallest grain of sand can belong to Caesar and not to God? If your heart tells you that Caesar owns your money, then give him the percentage that your heart says he should have, so long as you enter the path of truth and knowledge, your understanding will increase and so will your faith.

So yes, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, which may not be very much depending where you are along the path of truth, knowledge and righteousness.

Am I suggesting that you don't pay your taxes? No! I am saying render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

16 December 2008 at 12:19  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Good intentions spliced to blind arrogance and numbing greed.

Can't it change?

16 December 2008 at 13:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Working jobs we hate, and consuming products that do not fulfill.

16 December 2008 at 13:11  
Blogger dizzyfatplonka said...

Kumba ya my Lord!

Mr Cameron has learned a lesson then, I recall it was rather fashionable and the done thing back in the Greed is Good 80s for our yuppies to urinate on the homeless after a good night on the town.

Please don't take this the wrong way, as its not Tory values I am getting at here but our values as a Nation.

Lest we be suprized when we are judged so harshly.

I was needy Lord
I was hungry Lord
I was thirsty Lord

And Great Britain urinated on me!

If international banker fraud and multi-national corporate corruption was treated like terrorism I would be happy.

Their assets should be seized and bank accounts frozen then these ill gotten gains used to bail out the tax payer, instead of the other way around.

16 December 2008 at 13:40  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

I think he's a snake oil salesman. It would be interesting if he was full of sound and fury and but he isn't, is he? He is like IDS but without the clarity of vision or the sincerity or the commitment to Tory values. He is a weathervane, not a signpost.

What is he up against? He is up against an open goal post. Brown and his colleagues have elevated lies, spin and mendacity to an art form. They have bankrupted the country and destroyed the foundations of freedom and common sense.

And what did DC have to say about the Damian Green affair? He said, "Some serious questions have to be asked". Yeah, go for it Dave, that'll really scare 'em.

16 December 2008 at 14:42  
Blogger John said...

A ‘day of reckoning’?

I was thinking more along the lines of a trip to Tyburn.

16 December 2008 at 15:01  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Day of reckoning???

What about Gordon Brown and cohorts?

The worst that will happen to them is that they will lose the next election but they will still remain in parliament on fat salaries, fat pensions, fees earned by interviews with BBC and others blah blah blah.

Some penance for their criminal actions in trashing the British economy.

Was it Joseph Chamberlain who said that when he was young he wanted to be a pirate, but was persuaded into politics when he realised that the rewards were just as good, you didnt need any ethics, just a brass neck, and there was none of the danger.

16 December 2008 at 15:07  
Blogger Dave said...

off-topic and probably deserves to be deleted but I'm too impatient to wait.

My Grace, if you were in China which church would you belong to?

16 December 2008 at 15:28  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Dave,

The one holy catholic and apostolic Church, of course.

16 December 2008 at 15:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cameron is quite wrong. Bankers and businessmen have one objective, to make money. They know that in the general run of things they must do this within the framework of the law. This is their mission. The framework is laid down by the common law, and within that by regulating authorities, in our case the Bank of England and the Financial Regulating Authority. These bodies are appointed by the government. If there was transgression it was by-and-large within the law and in accordance with the rules laid down by the government, which is to say parliament including government and opposition. It is therefore the politicians who should be brought to judgement and not the city.

16 December 2008 at 17:03  
Anonymous Voyager said...

If there was transgression it was by-and-large within the law and in accordance with the rules laid down by the government, which is to say parliament including government and opposition. It is therefore the politicians who should be brought to judgement and not the city.

Default on your credit card and watch RBS drag you through County Court.....default on your obligations to shareholders as CEO of RBS and let the taxpayer take the strain of ABN-AMRO and retire on a big fat pension

16 December 2008 at 19:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One could conclude that Cameron is either mad, very bad, suicidal, or determined not to actually be elected to higher office.

However we have anything at all, we still have hope, and it is a wonderful thing.

Therefore let us hope Cameron means what he says and will one day be allowed to do it.

Actions speak louder then words. However words are very useful as well, especially in opposition. Pity Cameron did not use more words in the past like, for example

the, at, conspiracy, A, highest, level, establishment , of. But of course not in that order, and preferably years before things got this bad.

This current economic situation could never have been such without the establishment conspiring with the MSM, and especially the BBC. Which for some extremely silly reason a majority of British public still trust.

IMO if there is anybody to blame more then the highest members of The British Banking establishment for the mess they have created. Surly the BBC, which is now and always has been the establishments very own, perfectly free to them, money spinning, agenda ridden, acutely dishonest propaganda channel, should be fully and publicly investigated. Then when found guilty as charged, closed down forever, and its top brass publicly executed, or given terminally long prison sentences.

The BBC as good as elected this current bunch of criminals into office. Whats worse The BBC has done its up most to keep them there for the last 11 years. However it NEVER EVER takes responsibility for its actions. Only fall guys like The Chairman or the Chief Executive take the rap.

They also managed to convince the British public that the good times would never end as long as they kept voting Labour. The BBC is still running "how to get rich quick in the property market" programs even today.

However one things for certain. Not Cameron or any one else is going to even crossly wave a finger at, never mind arrest, the people who REALLY control from the very top, the BBC and the British banking establishment. For they are the same people and Cameron would prefer to be Prime Minister one day not materially swimming with the fishes for eternity, I am sure.

Atlas shrugged

17 December 2008 at 03:46  
Blogger The last cause said...

I'm curious as to what the C of E's position is on indebtedness and debt in general?

There was moral failure, however more then merely politicians were involved, loans were applied for, credit limits reached, as a moral issue, it would seem the People failed as greatly as the Gordon Brown's of the world have.

17 December 2008 at 04:33  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

I thank Voyager for properly refining my language. I used the the technical term "derivative" when I ought to have used the broader term "complex financial instruments".

This blog thrives on rigorous criticism such as this!

I was not confining my remarks to the UK.

The overall proposition however remains.

When litigation follows regulatory failure, and when regulators are bamboozled by complexity, and innovations that even the traders do not understand, and are unable to value, ( the original sympton of our banking crisis) then the result is that the taxpayer underwrites the whole shoddy enterprise.

Just as a Government ought not to put its troops in harm's way unless it is clear that the potential losses have been considered and the enterprise deemed necesary, so with the commitment of financial underwriting implied by installing regulators.

17 December 2008 at 09:22  
Anonymous steadmancinques said...

3 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. 4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already : neither is it in our power to redeem them ; for other men have our lands and vineyards. 6 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. 7 Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them'.
Nehemiah 5: 3-7

17 December 2008 at 09:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...

innovations that even the traders do not understand, and are unable to value

Tunnel vision in fact. Too many PhD graduates in nuclear physics were available very cheaply to Wall Street and academia had long tried to blend Natural Sciences with Economics using models on gas-diffusion and Brownian Motion to create equations designed to pattern randomness.

It was an intellectual conceit as Econometrics became the notion that Chaos could be ordered or at least its Volatility rendered predictable for purposes of making random events apparently convergent to a pattern.

This is how the Derivatives models were developed - Long Term Capital Management - created its black box predictor until it crashed in 1998 in a dry-run for 2007 - no lessons were learned and Bear Stearns was paid back in 2008 for its careless disregard over LTCM.

Every gambler has "a system" and cheating helps win a few chips until the table wins back the pot. Akio Morita of SONY called it "Casino Capitalism" and he died in 1999 after a stroke in 1993 - so you can see it goes back a long way this gambling addiction of Western society.

18 December 2008 at 05:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I have mentioned on other sites, I am not sure what extrapolation formula are being used to achieve these 'results', but is appears somewhat flawed and what is also clear, it is not much ‘who are these people’ but the MandCamp propaganda machine in overdrive.

Some of the articles I have read where they claim people are turning to Brown is nothing more than Mandelson’ use of the Joseph Goebbels principle if you tell a lie for long enough…...

Unfortunately for him, he failed to realise that it doesn't matter what is released and ‘reported’, the fact remains the people at grass roots don't know of anyone that supports them. I wonder if like Brown, he isn’t losing too?

One thing is for sure, despite their plagiarism and implementation of some of Hitler’s policies; divide, weaken and control the masses, their additional ‘bespoke’ policies, such as the client state dependency in their quest to achieve power, they will never achieve Hitler’s’ ability to mesmerise the people, albeit duped, to willingly become followers of his dream.

Why not? Well, it’s simple. Hitler’s was doing it for some ‘higher’ purpose, whereas this cabals reason for doing it is overwhelmingly governed by their own self serving greed. This is too well known and too well documented and it is their Achilles Heel.
This is also the Tories Achilles Heel, which the Mandelson propaganda has no compunction to use in order to stay in power.

Cameron needs to recognise he has two choices.
1. To take responsibility for the job they were elected to do. Namely serve and represent the people.

Accept a loss of perks, with a pledge that expenses will be available for public scrutiny and give the people an unequivocal promise they will get the right to a referendum to stay or out of the EU.


2. Or carry on milking the taxpayer and eventually sink into oblivion and some of them will. The EU will not need them all and with Blair and Mandelson will be ‘pushing the buttons’ to ensure the ones they want, that much is certain. And even if he personally does manage to preserve his protected and feather nested position it will be with the result that this is likely to end in civil unrest/war and people killed as a direct result of this evil. And he, his family and their future generations must accept the reality that they will never be free to walk without fear ever again. This not a threat, this is a sad fact of what is unravelling.

18 December 2008 at 17:08  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older