Financial crisis


skynews

Twitter feeds, live podcasts and video are pumping out reports of the G20 riots in the City with breathless excitement. The #G20 tag on Twitter is brimming over with posts. As Tweeter robcthegeek just pointed out, journalists are rather enjoying channeling the mayhem.

Amid frenetic news of RBS’ windows being smashed, office equipment being thrown out and even an armoured car being stopped by police, a bit of comedy has been peeping through. A few nice Tweets I’ve picked out:

andrewnorfolk: “HAH, #G20 protesters smash RBS windows, it’s nationalised you morons!”

 

davidteather: “It is like apocalypse now, but with decent food”

 

rachelwilliams2: “‘This is the worst festival i’ve ever been to’ quips one man as we are squeezed round a corner by a police line”

 

madduane: “Saw a sign in the G20 protest coverage that said “Capitalism Isn’t Working.” I couldn’t help but wonder what a pro banner like that costs.”

 

JasonGregory“Can someone tell the man smashing the RBS windows that he (presuming he is a taxpayer) will have to pay for that. #G20”

 

tuileries: “The thing is, the British and their protests, it’s all just anoraks & rucksacks. If we were French the water cannons wld be out by now.”

 

In the background on the Sky News radio feed, you can hear Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ being murdered by a handful of unwashed students with a guitar.

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gerkin

I went along to the Treasury select committee in Portcullis House this afternoon to see five of the country’s best known financial journalists take a mild ruffling from John McFall and the boys. From the crowds milling in the corridor beforehand you could tell it was going to be top rate entertainment, and sitting inside were some newspaper A-listers – Quentin Letts doodling on his shorthand pad and Polly Toynbee bagging a seat near the front.

Simon Jenkins of the Guardian, Alex Brummer of the Daily Mail, Robert Peston of the BBC, Lionel Barber of the FT and Jeff Randall of Sky sat in front of the committee like unrepentant sixth formers. The mood swung back and forth from jocular to snappy. Tory MP Michael Fallon fired the first real salvo when he asked Peston whether he had any sources within the Treasury. Peston’s answer sent a ripple of chuckling through the crowd:

You won’t be surprised that the only area I’m uncomfortable talking about in public is sources of any sort. Over the years I’ve benefited from private conversations with a lot of people, including members of this committee. I’ve talked to you, for example.

Fallon pressed on, asking if Peston had his own pass to the Treasury. “I’m perfectly happy to say I have not got a pass to the Treasury,” Peston replied, adding that if Fallon liked he could ask the Treasury how often he was there, somewhere in the region of twice a year by his guess.

jenkins

Among predictable exchanges – did the witnesses feel responsible for precipitating the run on Northern Rock, no they didn’t – Simon Jenkins sounded the most controversial note.

He suggested the government leaked bad news about ailing banks to journalists like Peston before buying up the shares at a cheaper price a few days later.

I think the government has that level of competence. There was a massive interest to the taxpayer to make these shares cheaper. It would be almost weird for the government not to have done it, but how much the journalists involved knew about it I don’t know.

For the record, Peston and others rejected the idea. The talk dwindled as the session wore on, before at the end John McFall cheerily plugged Alex Brummer’s book, Crunched.