If treasury select committees had pundits, then chances are today’s performance of MPs Vs hedge fund managers would have been judged a draw, with the MPs ahead on points. 

Winning and losing was not supposed to be the point of course, but it often felt that way. The hedgies hit hard but knowing it was not their moment, failed to rise to the occasion.

It probably did not help that they were appearing on the same day as banner headlines in the national press reporting that a US hedge fund had made £100 million shorting RBS.

Perhaps sensing the clash of classes and cultures that would be taking place, the meeting took place in the Thatcher Room. Committee chair for Labour, John McFall, set the tone.

‘Do you not accept that the majority of the public see you as crooks and spivs?’ he asked. ‘Do you not accept that you have something of a PR problem?’

They did indeed accept it, but were far too savvy to accept that resolving it might mean accepting the medicine that some of the committee wished to force upon them.

No, they were not prepared to admit that, sometimes, perhaps, maybe, short strategies could possibly destroy value as well as help to discover it. No, they would not admit that some funds had done very well – legitimately – by betting against liability-ridden banks.

And no, they certainly were not prepared to admit that their attempt at self-regulation, with 34 signatories to it in its first year out of a potential 500-odd, was a failure.

Of the hedge-fund line-up, Children’s Investment fund founder Chris Hohn was undoubtedly the weakest reed, fumbling a question comparing hedge funds to investment banks and walking straight into a trap on how little regulation both faced.

Paul Marshall of Marshall Wallace put in the best performance for the side, conceding points were it was politic to do so, but parrying many of the charges laid against him.

But even he came out worst when McFall reminded him that he had told investors in August that there would be a huge number of ‘opportunities’ in financial turmoil.

Sensing an easy goal, McFall asked him if he might now like to apologise? While artfully delivered, Wallace’s ‘no’ still made him appear like a cross between the Child Snatcher and professor Moriarty.          

There was some common ground. Both sides agreed that it would be better if ‘naked’ short selling – a bit like a informal CFD – were banned, although the SEC’s attempt to do so has been entirely ineffectual.

Both were happy to agree that many of the image problems emanated from the US and were therefore neither side’s problem.

And it was over. Much like the private equity proceedings of last year, the MPs got to feel that they had struck a blow for their honest constituents.

The hedge fund industry sucked it up for an hour and then went back to singlehandedly bringing down the global financial system. And everyone’s happy.