Nick Clegg talked the other day of how the bankers are living in a ‘parallel universe’ if they think they can get away with massive bonuses.
Now, as the bankers prepare to get away with massive bonuses, it is Mr Clegg who appears to be living in a parallel universe when he says ‘Don’t forget the dog that no longer barks is the accusation that coalition government doesn’t work. If anything the accusation is that we are working too effectively.’
Too effectively! There’s modest … but how that relates to their handling of the bonuses issue is not entirely clear. But let us put the raising of the white flag to the bankers as anoher issue on which much political gain was made when it had to be, and now nothing is being done. Promise made. Promise broken.
And how revealing was it when Bob Diamond of Barclays revealed to the Treasury select committee yesterday the number of times David Cameron and George Osborne had asked him to show pay restraint … a big fat zero. So for all the tough public talk by Osborne in particular, it was all sweetness and light behind closed doors, a signal the bankers have clearly taken with relish.
Now Clegg says he has to show more distance from the Tories. This looks to me like a tactic in search of a strategy. And when it comes to the issue of control orders, and the unseemly way Cameron is allowing the issue to be carved up to find something poor Nick can boast of as a concession, it is a tactic in search of a strategy which plays fast and loose with national security.
A word finally on Eric Illsley, who would appear to be following former colleague David Chaytor to jail having admitted expenses fraud.
They have been humiliated. Their reputations have been shredded. As we saw with Mr Illsley yesterday, they are being shunned by colleagues. Their lives, through their own actions, are in ruins. That is a big punishment to take already.
They both did wrong and deserve to be punished. But at a time Kenneth Clarke is rightly trying to keep fewer people in prison, and see more sentences served in the community, is jail really the answer?