PARLIAMENT witnessed the job interview from hell yesterday. We’ll call the most hellish aspect Tucker’s Dilemma, named after the deputy governor of the Bank of England who was considered a shoe-in for the top job on Threadneedle Street before being dragged into the Libor scandal.
The dilemma was simple: to stay in the running for promotion, Paul Tucker had to be transparent about his conversations with Labour politicians during the 2008 financial crisis. Unfortunately he knew this would make George Osborne look like a fool.
But he also knew that to win the job of governor he must charm the person who makes the decision – that man being George Osborne.
Tucker lost the struggle early on, following a quick-fire round with questionmaster Pat McFadden.
Asked by the Labour MP if politicians such as Ed Balls or Shriti Vadera had leaned on him to pressure Barclays, Tucker shook his head. “Absolutely not,” he barked.
Tucker is a realist. Tucker – unlike Bob Diamond – would never countenance calling MPs by their first names. Tucker is the sort of man who works in a dusty office and uses a well-worn leather briefcase for his papers.
Unfortunately those papers did not include a record of that crucial October 2008 conversation with Diamond regarding Barclay’s Libor submissions. Tucker regrets this. A lot.
Having started strongly – lecturing the MPs on complex financial concepts he clearly thought above them – he soon began to struggle.
His confidence seeped away as MPs attacked his note-taking ability, his inability to predict how Barclays staff may misinterpret him, his decision to focus on the nationalisation of financial institutions rather than inconsistencies in an interbank interest rate.
It was too much. By the end it looked as though Tucker may not make the second interview. The man the Bank trusted to keep an eye on markets is now 9/4 for the top job, out from the previous 6/4 price – meaning that he is no longer the bookies’ favourite.
“We didn't see ourselves as being responsible for its effectiveness whatsoever. We used it as an indicator of the things that I have described. We didn't take any responsibility for Libor, we were not a regulatory body.”
“It was not remotely in my mind during this conversation that I could be misinterpreted by Bob Diamond on anybody else.”
“We can’t be confident of anything after learning about this cesspit.”
Andy Love MP
“If it hadn’t been for the persistence of the American authorities this report might never have come out.”
Andrea Leadsom MP
“You have procedures but you seem too busy to follow them”
"I find your evidence so far to be quite contradictory"