David Prosser: Lib Dems target bankers

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The Independent Online

Outlook It is not my place to tell you how to vote, but here's one observation: if you were to fill in your ballot paper solely on the basis of which party is promising to be toughest on those social pariahs we call bankers, there would be no contest.

The Liberal Democrats will today pledge to prevent banks paying cash bonuses of more than £2,500, ban bank board directors from receiving bonuses at all, and stop any loss-making bank paying a single penny in bonuses.

Easy promises to make, you might say, for a party that will never be in a position to make good on the threat. But it does underline just how wary Labour and the Conservatives have been about pandering to populist distaste for bankers. Both parties have made disapproving noises about the level of bonuses but are reluctant to offer much in the way of action, even where the state has the largest stake in an institution.

As for the Conservatives' promise, repeated yesterday, for a new levy on the banks to ensure they repay taxpayer support, the IMF is set to recommend exactly such a tax across the G20 later this month. Though George Osborne has promised unilateral action, there is little chance of him having to act alone. Vote Lib Dem for a bonfire of the bankers then.