Last week I decided to phone up the whistleblowing hotline of the Bank of England. On the other end of the phone was a very kind man, I pictured him sitting in a big comfy armchair with a big mug of strong tea, freshly brewed and steaming. I stated that I was a concerned British citizen who wished to blow the whistle on not only the British, but the global financial system. I expressed my concern about the seemingly inevitable onset of another financial crisis and the possible impacts that this would have on everyday citizens, like me, my friends and my family.
After explaining my concerns there was a short silence, then, a considered response in a soft, comforting and lilting accent: “Οkay, right, so, as I understand it Flora, you’re actually really just a concerned citizen, not someone with a specific example of a procedural wrongdoing in the Bank of England?”
“Well, as my representative central bank you oversee, sustain and intervene within an economic system which I see as fundamentally flawed. So in that sense, I think there’s something wrong with your procedures.” Again, the gentle and kind response, clearly here is one of the only people we have called who has training in listening and proper communication: “So you’re a citizen, whose rung up the whistleblowing line of their own central bank, to blow the whistle about their own central bank?”
“Oh I see, yes, no, I suppose that’s quite interesting really, isn’t it?” He was patient with me as I aired my various concerns and asked him various questions. I felt as though we quickly had developed a little rapport, a blossoming small communication, albeit with the register of a conversation between a kindly father and his crying child.
“I’m no economist Flora so I’m afraid I can’t answer these questions, I mean I did my A-level but that’s it you know…[he chuckles kindly] And even that, I mean….we’re talking about a long time ago, too, so it’s not exactly as up-to-date as it could be because I’m getting on now!” He took it upon himself to comfort and reassure me, “Well Flora, if it puts your mind at ease I do think everyone here works very hard and they genuinely do try to do the best job they can for the British public, and I do think Mark Carney [the manager of the Bank of England] is a nice guy and he works very hard.”
Unfortunately that was the extent of the help he could offer, along with providing me with the e-mail address for the general inquiries team. He signed of wishing me a good day and saying “Good luck with things anyway Flora.” What a nice guy, what a human!