Darling's banker bashing

Former chancellor attacks the bankers as "arrogant and stupid" in new extracts from his memoir.

More extracts from Alistair Darling's memoir, due out next Wednesday, have leaked onto Labour Uncut, and today we get his view of Fred Goodwin and co. "My worry," writes Darling, "was that they (the bankers) were so arrogant and stupid that they might bring us all down".

The former chancellor reportedly lambasts Goodwin's response to the crisis as that of someone "off to play a game of golf", concluding that the former RBS boss "deserved to be a pariah". Elsewhere, Darling describes Andy Hornby, the former chief executive of HBOS, as "looking like he was about to explode" when confronted with the full scale of what had happened on his watch. According to Labour Uncut's Atul Hatwal, the former chancellor will also attack a lack of gratitude for the bailout that was "as shocking as it was stupid".

What makes Darling's intervention politically notable is that it comes so soon before the publication of the Vickers report on banking. As the Lib Dems fight for the introduction of a strict ring-fence between banks' retail and investment arms, Darling's attack on the avarice of the City won't do their cause any harm.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.