Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

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Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Bankers – with a W

The pre-budget report from the Chancellor seemed reasonable – that is – until Vince tore it apart. Let’s just just take the bankers (no – you take them)  and their bonuses.

As far as I understood it – Darling was proposing that if the bankers used their profits to increase their capital reserve – they would be left in peace. If, however, they chose to use their profits to pay bonuses – then there would be a 50% levy on any bonus over £25,000. They would use anti-avoidance measures so the banks couldn’t dodge this.

That all seemed fine until Vince got going.  And he had lots to go on as the entire pre-budget report was left untouched by George Osborne’s really pathetic response. It was so astoundingly bad, embodying only political rhetoric but not a single word really about what the Tories would do, that I can’t imagine that won’t be the gist of the media coverage.

But I digress. Vince posed simple questions really: what anti-avoidance measures? No answer – just a repetition of ‘anti-avoidance measures’. What would stop bankers converting proposed bonuses to salary and thus avoiding the levy? No answer.

This is just a tiny part of Vince’s demolition job – but just those two simple questions blew gigantic holes in the idea that the bankers are going to feel any wind blowing on them from Darling’s proposals. 

However, it’s not just about what can stop the bankers’ bonuses. I’ve been pondering on what sort of person must there be sitting on the Board of RBS ? To threaten to resign on mass if bonuses are not paid – is  stupid, arrogant and a shocking indictment of the nature of man – well man on bank board.

I would say let the bastards go. But the real question that keeps running through my brain is what sort of human being, what individual, thinks in this time of great hardship for the country and for those hit by the recession – that it is OK to be paid a bonus? Let alone a bonus that is more than most peoples’ annual salary?

These must be pretty dismal human beings, to whom the god of money (above and beyond what they are paid for being on the Board) has made them no longer understand nor care about others’ well-being. Whether or not the Government succeeds in curbing their bonuses (and Vince’s response rather led me to believe that this was an unlikely outcome) surely this is a time when these men of good fortune should be showing leadership and saying that they would not dream of taking a bonus when others less fortunate than themselves are losing their jobs and their homes? You would think……………..

Perhaps this is clear evidence that bankers should be spelt with a w.

Wed 9 December 2009
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Comments

  1. Alastair McKenzie says:

    I don’t have much faith in the success of a Bonus tax, but more importantly I don’t care whether one is imposed or not – it’s a sideshow.

    The only measure I want to see put in place, here in the UK, in Europe and ideally across the world, is a transaction tax, aka a Tobin Tax.

    It is the only, scalable, measure that might curb the bane of capitalism – ‘casino banking’.

    Until Mrs Thatcher unleashed the barrow-boys, spivs and gamblers in the ‘Big Bang’, the function of the City was to provide capital through share-ownership to industry and services that ADD VALUE. What we got was a nest of parasites who simply add no value to our economy, and who have no engagement, responsibility or interest in the success and well-being of the companies whose shares they trade.

    The parasites have now got their hands on new technology – High-Frequency Trading systems -which enable them to automatically make around 430,000 transactions per second, (owning shares for nanoseconds is SO conducive to responsible share ownership!) enabling them to detect tiny eddies in the market and exploit them, before human traders have even blinked.

    Unless a power-sharing Libdem party in a hung-parliament can force a transaction tax on the City (let’s face it, neither Labour or the Tories will do it) I see little chance of avoiding the financial crisis of the next decade which will come when the gamblers create another massive bubble based on perceived paper, or rather, digital, values.

  2. [...] Lynne Featherstone M.P. chips in [...]

  3. Harriet Harms Man says:

    “what sort of human being, what individual, thinks in this time of great hardship for the country and for those hit by the recession – that it is OK to be paid a bonus? Let alone a bonus that is more than most peoples’ annual salary?”

    Must take you to task on this comment Lynne. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in receiving a huge bonus if the person receiving it is genuinely deserving and has performed exceptionally well at work. In some cases it could be for a project that a person had been planning or working on for years and such sweeping statements really aren’t helpful.

    I’m sure your comments do apply to most cases in the news right now, but that doesnt’ maek them correct – some organisations have even been doing well in the recession, or have started to do well recently. By far the most sickening bonuses are not so much the ones paid now (though plenty of those are well out of order), but the ones paid a year or so ago – i.e. bonuses paid for failing really really badly! In such a situation plenty of people should have been sacked if anything.

  4. dreamingspire says:

    Key bankers were ever thus, particularly when funding the state (the king in past times). So were some others – I well remember long time ago a distressed colleague whose father had been taken ill at home. The doctor came to see him, and called in a specialist (they did all that at home in those days). The specialist packed him off to hospital (heart attack), and, as the old man was being taken out on a stretcher, leaned over him and said “Now what about the fee?”. Yes, this was well into the NHS era…

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