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Thursday 5 July 2012

LIBOR – Anatomy Of A Hatchet Job

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

Even among a world where politics is increasingly polarised and partisan, the tribalist mentality of some MPs following the opening of the Pandora’s Box that is the London Inter Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) revelations has been particularly extreme. And equally so has been the partisan and revealingly similar response from both the Daily Mail and Maily Telegraph.

Added to these less than disinterested players has been – and not first to the punch, please note – the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, whose output will be reduced in the next few days as his tame gofer, the flannelled fool Henry Cole, has gone off to the Isles of Scilly for a few days with flat-mate Christian May. Cole is nowadays responsible for most of the Fawkes blog.

So who was first to the punch? Kudos on this occasion appears to be due to James Chapman of the Mail, who was first to file at the end of Monday. His line, that Pa Broon and his followers were The Ones Wot Did It, became the one to take, especially the assertion that the chief villain was Shriti Vadera (casting an Asian woman as the culprit is, no doubt, sheer coincidence).

There were “leaked documents” that proved it all, not that Mail readers could be trusted with a sight of them. These included a paper co-authored by Baroness Vadera on the subject of “reducing LIBOR”. Note, however, that such a discussion, together with stating that a lower rate was “desirable”, only equals conspiracy of the most serious kind if several logic leaps are added.

The thought that a lower LIBOR rate being “desirable” was no more than a statement of the bleeding obvious at a time when the banking system appeared on the verge of imminent meltdown was not allowed to enter. Nor was any thought given to the Barclays rate rigging having happened three years earlier than the period examined by Chapman. And Staines wasn’t about to enlighten his readers, either.

The day after Chapman’s story, the Fawkes blog produced a copy memo which would, readers were assured, form part of Bob Diamond’s attack when he was hauled before the Treasury Committee the following day. Shriti Vadera, who was again named, would be shown to be behind it all. It turned out not to be part of any attack, as there wasn’t one. And so nobody was shown to be behind anything.

But, if at first you don’t succeed, and all that: Robert Winnett of the Telegraph claimed after Diamond gave his testimony that Pa Broon and everyone associated with him were now implicated. But the best he could do was to assure readers that those involved were “thought to include Baroness Vadera”. At least her view was reported at the end of the article.

Otherwise, this is just a shoddy nudge-nudge hatchet job. That’s not good enough.

[UPDATE1 1630 hours: and then the rest of the right leaning press came. The Murdoch Sun, ever willing to put the boot in on Pa Broon for having the temerity to object to having his family's medical details splashed all over the tabloid, has asserted "Osborne: Brown's team are involved". But all that Tom Newton Dunn can provide to stand up the assertion comes from Osborne, who also can't provide anything that looks remotely like evidence.

And at the Mail, clueless former Tory spinner Nick Wood has obediently chipped in with "If there is a smoking gun in this rate-fixing scandal, Labour's paw prints look to be all over it". He doesn't have the spine, or the information, to make a direct assertion. Wood would be wise to take a look at what happened in the Commons chamber this afternoon: his side made a lot of noise, but there was no beef in the sarnie. No change there, then]

[UPDATE2 2050 hours: all those hacks who had invested so much credibility in pushing the line that Labour were the ones that done it found that credibility sprayed up the wall in short order as the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, climbed down from his suggestion that Shadow Chancellor "Auguste" Balls was personally involved in the LIBOR fix.

Osborne, as befits a spineless coward, got his aides to slip the story to the media. And it gets worse: nobody at the Treasury has volunteered to go on Newsnight later this evening, while Labour have had no problem putting up Mil The Younger to be questioned by Kirsty Wark. Presumably Chloe Smith saw this one coming and arranged a constituency appointment. She's a fast learner.

None of the hacks can have any complaint: they all wanted to believe this rubbish, and were willing participants in its transmission. The only hope for them is that Osborne's volte face has come early enough for anything they previously filed for tomorrow's print editions to be pulled as a face saving measure. What a bunch of clowns]

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