Rob Peston had calmed down by the time he appeared on the Today programme this morning. Yesterday on Twitter, he was implying that HM Treasury had misled him about who was going to be the new Governor of the Bank of England. Today he said the new Guvnor, Mark Carney, had changed his mind after the current head of the Bank of Canada had ruled himself out of the running earlier this year.
The BBC’s business editor was not alone in saying in recent weeks that Paul Tucker, the current deputy Governor, was a shoe-in for the top job, despite his problems over the LIBOR scandal. The Financial Times wrote an editorial backing Mr Tucker, the Sunday Times all but crowned him at the weekend. At least The Sun had its own candidate – its City editor Steve Hawkes.
The media may have its faults – as Lord Leveson will point out in his report later this week – but they don’t all go for the same story without some guidance. Had the Bank of England been a public company, the regulatory authorities might be probing who said what now. How ironic – as the Bank takes over banking regulation shortly.
Having said Mr Tucker was the right man, the media executed an elegant u-turn to unanimously back Mr Carney this morning. By doing this it follows the number 1 rule of financial communications – don’t bash the Bank. Gordon Brown, never a man to shy away from a fight, was willing to accept blame for the losses made by selling the UK’s gold reserves rather than pass the buck. The Northern Rock failure was pinned on the Financial Services Authority – largely fairly although John Gieve, the then deputy Governor, admitted to not reading Northern Rock’s financial statements. Bob Diamond accused the Bank over the LIBOR scandal and lasted a matter of days as Barclays chief executive afterwards.
The warm welcome for Mr Carney contrasts with the other high profile appointment of recent days – Chelsea FC’s new manager. A certain Mr Benitez was greeted by “Rafa out” signs at his first home game. Guiding the UK economy must seem like a stroll in the park compared with that job!