Fear of big finance led to 2008 meltdown and will scupper chances of a proper inquiry
It seems our primary concern must always be the welfare of the most privileged
The language of Anglo executives, as revealed by the tapes, has shocked many because of the indifference to the public welfare that this represents. But isn’t our culture founded on an indifference to the public welfare, except as an afterthought or incidental?
What else has informed the Coalition’s action on their election promise to ensure “burden-sharing” on the bank debt? Once it was perceived that pursuit of that promise would alienate the masters of the EU universe, the promise was dishonoured. They promised to “protect the vulnerable” and did the opposite. Would it be surprising if a similar crudity of attitude and language, as exemplified by the Anglo executives in the tapes of their private conversations, were replicated in the private conversations of government ministers and senior public servants?
The proposed inquiry into the banking crisis will not address that culture, for there is no challenge to the pervasiveness of that culture, a culture that the market prevails. It is not Deutschland über alles, but markets über alles. So any inquiry will miss the main point.
The partisanship evident in the lead-up to an inquiry will compromise whatever credibility it might have had. The expectation that any such public inquiry will be inexpensive and swift is certain to prove illusory. There will be as many teams of expensive lawyers on hand and frequent excursions to the High Court and Supreme Court to challenge procedures.
And crucially, the inevitability that any such public inquiry will be derailed again and again by the criminal trials that are due in the Circuit Criminal Courts over the coming years.
Seán Fitzpatrick alone faces two criminal trials and, almost certainly, a third; these extend well into 2014.
There is another option: a commission of inquiry, to be held in camera, out of the public gaze for now, but not derailed by the criminal trials or other diversions. This conducted by a judge, a banking expert and someone who would have knowledge of and interest in the culture thing – the mindset or common sense or hegemony that brought about the crisis and continues to corrupt our society.
But of course that will not happen.