He warned about unsustainable cheap credit and the consequent risk of a crash, and no one paid a blind bit of notice. He pinpointed the structural weakness at Northern Rock and called for its nationalisation, but until it was almost too late a Labour government faffed about in virtual paralysis. For inadvertently declaring war against a Murdoch media stranglehold, he was ridiculed and fined a chunk of his portfolio. By then, he had already spoken about casino banking in general, and Bob Diamond's appointment as Barclay's CEO in particular, in terms that were rather less in vogue in polite political society than than they are today.
He spoke about the banks presenting a graver threat to this country than the trade unions, and of the dangers of the non-interventionist approach to capitalism. "Markets are often irrational or rigged," he said with wonted prescience, long before most of us were world experts on Libor. "Capitalism takes no prisoners and kills competition where it can."
In another speech, he said: "We are worried about this combination of the casinos and the traditional banking. Mr Diamond illustrates in a particularly graphic way what happens when you have an extremely highly paid head of an investment bank taking over one of these major international banks."