When the government had the chance to implement banking reform, when the iron was still hot enough to strike, I strongly advocated the splitting of retail banking operations from the buccaneering side of banking. Only the retail side should have government protection guarantees, and it would need to be tightly controlled, I said. The whole risky investment banking side would have to stand or fall by itself, and not a penny of tax money should ever be spent baling it out.
I'm sure some of you thought it a simplistic and naive solution from an amateur. Still, at a point in time it was do-able - the government would have faced little argument from a banking sector with all the wind knocked out of it. That time is past, the sector has recovered its arrogance and would place every obstacle imaginable in the path of government who now wanted to engineer such a split.
The CSFI's John Kay has now belatedly jumped on the bandwagon with a new report recommending exactly the measures I did. Retail deposits, loans, the payments system, business banking and the rest all within 'Narrow Banks', as tightly regulated as water, gas and telecomms. The casino operations, together with their massive bonuses, to be in an unregulated but unsupported sector earning tax and revenue for government but as expendable as goldfish.
The banks have learned only one thing - that if they're big, and they've got retail banking tied up in their investment operations, then governments won't let them fail. It's time to disabuse them of this guarantee. Brown's enduring incompetence and dithering missed the right tide for this, and it will now be harder to do, but Cameron must surely have the strength to carry this through.