Belatedly, Bob Diamond has done the decent thing and fallen on his sword.
It was important that he should do so as public confidence in the banks, which used to be trusted institutions held in high esteem, has been badly shaken.
The perception now is that they are motivated by greed and self interest, ordinary customers are treated with contempt and are felt deserving of the most rotten deals, the banking industry as a whole is one huge casino gambling with other people’s money, and when the solids hit the fan the immediate reaction of the top brass is to buffer themselves with bonuses.
Unfortunately the manner of Mr Diamond’s departure means that it is unlikely to do much to rehabilitate the reputation of the banks by demonstrating that the bank bosses are prepared to take responsibility for that which has gone on under them.
He is not stepping down because of what Barclays Bank did – try to manipulate the inter-bank lending rates – but because external pressure on the bank risked “damaging the franchise”.
In other words, people are having a go at Barclays, so he has made himself a sacrificial offering. Taking one for the team, as they say in sport.
As other banks are under investigation in relation to the scandal, the bank-bashing is going to continue into the foreseeable future.
However, we need strong banks to underpin the regeneration of the economy. If they do not lend any money, there is nothing with which to pump-prime the recovery which Britain is crying out for. And if interest rates climb, ordinary people will suffer.
Britain needs a responsible banking industry that is responsive its customers and the needs of the nation. Why should that be difficult?