18 Feb 2009

Unhappy returns to Northern Rock

Can it only be a year since Northern Rock disgraced the British financial system and collapsed under the weight of its own hubris and incompetence? Did we think then that it would prove the Northern tip of a very large iceberg indeed?

Above and beyond anyone else I blame my own breed, we journalists, who knew from our experience that there was something more than fishy about what was going on.

I did not entirely understand what was happening. Worse, I did not really go the extra mile to try to find out. My focus has always been primarily upon where lives are being extinguished by war, poverty and worse. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, they have all provided horrible insight into the more challenging aspects of the collective role of both the east and the west in the world.

But unravelling the complexities of the world of high finance is, if anything, an intellectually even more taxing challenge – and we failed it. Yes, blame me. Blame us. We sit there with our City pages, our “experts”, our columnists. But which of us can now hold his or her head up and said “I warned you”? I didn’t.

But having cleared my throat and eased my conscience, neither I nor the rest of my breed will spare any effort in the battle to expose what has happened and what is still to come. To name those who did it and go after them. And, at the end of it, to examine the plans, the options, the chances and the hopes that must eventually carry us through to a new way of living in less greed-stricken, less “me first”-ridden, less isolated and more caring times.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4