At least, I imagine that’s how such an advert might go, but I’m not sure, because Mr Diamond’s appearance before MPs today didn't make matters terribly clear. We still don’t know for certain who in Whitehall (officials? Ministers?) put pressure on the Bank of England over Libor in 2008; nor do we know whether the Bank of England, in turn, meant Barclays to lie about its Libor rates.
MPs did try to be firm with Mr Diamond. “Get on with it!” snapped Andrew Tyrie. “You must be living in a parallel universe!” scolded Andrea Leadsom. John Mann shouted that if he wasn’t complicit he was “grossly incompetent”. Sadly the MP for Bassetlaw had little success with his shock tactics. Perhaps that’s no surprise. After all, Diamond is the hardest substance known to Mann.
Barclays’ ex-CEO gave a Murdoch-style masterclass in semi-apology (he was “sorry” but not “personally culpable”). He insisted he only learnt about Barclays’ Libor-fixing “this month”. Odd, given that this month began on Sunday, days after the story broke. Still, he is an awfully busy man.
He spoke slowly, dully, as if, rather than one of the world’s most powerful bankers, he were some humble hick from Doofusville, Iowa (“The nearest gas station? Gee, I don’t rightly know”). He addressed all the MPs by their first names (shucks, Bob here’s just a regular kinda guy). He expressed his deepest sorrow about the scandal (“I felt physically ill”); he was shocked that Barclays employees had behaved the way they had, because the bank had “a no-jerk rule”.
His evidence lasted three hours, but you could sum it up in two phrases: “It was wrong” and “I love Barclays”. Particularly the latter. He said it again and again: “I love Barclays.” His eyes practically misted over. At one point he even placed his hand on his heart. Barclays was “an amazing place”. It was filled with “wonderful people”.
Perhaps these declarations of passion strike you as sentimental, but if someone had paid you £17million last year, you’d probably quite like them too.
Notably Mr Diamond declined to say he’d forfeit his pay-off, which may be tens of millions of pounds. Probably he just wants to accept it on behalf of the wonderful Barclays people he loves. Maybe he’ll use it to buy a fleet of yachts and name each one after a wonderful Barclays person.