Blackfriar: If politics is showbusiness for ugly people, central banking is accountancy for celebrities

Hippies once urged us to hug a tree. You might have scoffed at the long-haired, workshy scruffs, but apparently it is good for you because it can “beneficially affect human health by altering vibrational frequency”. That’s according to the True Activist website, tagline Exposing the Truth One Lie at a Time.

David Cameron, one year into his leadership campaign to present a friendly side to the Conservative Party, urged us to hug a hoodie in a 2006 speech calling for a greater understanding of young criminals. The message seems rather lost on Theresa May, the terrifying Home Secretary.

Yesterday on Sky News, the cuddly breakfast show presenter Eamon Holmes asked the Governor of the Bank of England when he will say it is time to hug a banker.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mark Carney, the smooth-as-silk central banker, grinned his Cheshire cat-like grin and purred back: “I don’t think you want your Governor giving that type of advice so I suspect neither I nor my successors will be hugging a banker.

“I think ultimately we want to get to a point where people can respect bankers and bankers can respect themselves and recognise their job is fully serving the real economy.”

Mr Holmes, the grand inquisitor of Isleworth, made his eyebrows look stern and followed up with the rapier-like question, “Does that mean there are still bad apples in the financial barrel?”

“Well there are,” said Mr Carney, “but the system is changing so they are going to be held to account.”

The Canadian added: “There is a million people across this country who work in financial services, it is our largest exporter, it contributes about eight per cent of our GDP.

“There is a lot of talent, a lot of integrity, a lot of people doing the right things and these reforms... will profile them and bring the efforts they are doing more to the fore.

“We will still work and root out those bad apples, but I think we have got to recognise there is a lot of good in financial services, it makes a huge difference to our economy so I might not be hugging bankers but increasingly the British people will be respecting them.”

Mr Holmes asked Mr Carney how it felt to be the George Clooney of central banking. “It’s a very low bar,” he replied.

Indeed it is. If politics is showbusiness for ugly people, central banking is accountancy for celebrities.

INSTEAD of splurging hard-earned cash on consumer items we don’t need on Black Friday, Blackfriar wonders if the great British public would be wiser to take a leaf from the Chinese and start saving money for the future.

The sign of an intelligent child is the ability to defer gratification.

Unfortunately, a large part of the British economy is entirely dependent on the population behaving like children in a sweet shop and gorging themselves silly.

On Black Friday last year, UK shoppers spent £1m every three minutes, resulting in total sales of more than £800m. The knock-on effect was the weakest sales growth in December since the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008.

Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos, said: “Black Friday 2014 simply served to pull sales forward and threaten margins, rather than grow the size and value of the cake.”

Which is why Black Friday, the imported US sales phenomenon, seems such an act of collective insansity.

Sadly, it seems as though it is here to stay. As Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said, “it is impossible to put the genie back in the bottle”.

The retail sector is one of the pillars on which our prosperity is built, with nearly 3m employees in the UK. With so many households depending on them, our retailers need to be sustainable, profitable enterprises. Fortunately, Asda has seen sense and pulled out this year, citing “shopper fatigue”.

Plenty others will be going ahead regardless, not least US sales behemoth Amazon. Give me strength.