"YOU old radical,
you!", Baroness Kennedy whispered to Dr Peter Selby, a former
bishop of Worcester, under the dome of St Paul's Cathedral last
Lady Kennedy and Dr Selby
were among the panellists gathered to debate "What kind of City do
we want?" on Thursday evening, in an event organised by St Paul's
Institute and CCLA, the charity fund-manager. They were joined by
the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, and
Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at
the Financial Conduct Authority, but the two veterans of the House
of Lords (Lady Kennedy confessed that she used to try to sit near
to Dr Selby) soon found common ground in their diagnosis of
unethical behaviour in the City of London, and in wider
Dr Selby called for
churches to become "schools of resistance", where people could be
"trained to say 'no' and 'enough is enough'. Lady Kennedy, a
Queen's Counsel specialising in human rights, was afraid that
ethical standards had been "squeezed out". "It's about the way in
which we have made wealth a value, and we measure people in our
society increasingly because of what they have. That has been a
poison within our system."
The keynote address,
delivered by Archbishop Nichols, was more measured. The Occupy
protests had raised "searching questions", but, while it would be
"easy to paint a depressing picture of the City", he was "not here
this evening to announce that we are all doomed. . . The Christian
instinct is to see potential for good in the City."
The answer to the
debate's question, he suggested, was rooted in recognising the
common bonds that held the City's inhabitants together. He was
reluctant to single out those working in financial services for
criticism, arguing that: "We are all secretly tempted to do good.
But our desire for good can easily be distorted through
selfishness, greed and pride."
The solution, he
suggested, was to develop the virtues of prudence, justice,
courage, and temperance. Rules would not suffice, because they
tended to become "a lazy proxy for morality. People think that if
it is not against a rule, then it is OK."
This last contention was
picked up by Mrs McDermott, who suggested that "effective
regulation and tough enforcement of the law are necessary, but not
sufficient". Although the industry "only has itself to blame" for
the perception held by many that it could not be trusted, "most
people who work in financial services are decent, hardworking,
optimism was challenged by Dr Selby, who argued that "the problem
is that the struggle between good and evil in some people carries
an awful lot more weight on the lives of others."
Lady Kennedy took up the
baton of radicalism with her contention that: "We should be looking
at the whole way in which capitalism is working. . . We have to say
again, 'What is good?'"
She revealed that when asked recently what she wanted, she had
replied: "I want to be good" - an answer that had elicited