James Moore: Banks need to cool it as anger grows


Outlook Not wanting to be outdone by Lord "Tax 'Em" Turner, Gordon Brown has now decided he has to join in with the bonus bashing too. Of course, when you look beyond the headlines, it becomes clear that, amid all the noise and the fuss and the desperate desire to pass the buck on to someone else, they are saying much the same thing. Which is that there should be international action to rein in the recidivists, who can't seem to shake their addiction to seven-figure payouts for doing well at financial roulette.

Of course, it is terribly easy to talk tough and make all sorts of bold promises when that little caveat is attached to whatever you say. Funnily enough, "international action" is exactly what the British Bankers' Association has been saying is the way forward for months now, ever since it became clear that some banks are carrying on regardless of the fact that the world has changed.

They all know that securing any sort of agreement for anything beyond vague platitudes is going to prove very difficult. Not least because some of Britain's European partners see the chance to rewrite the rules as little more than an opportunity to grab some of the business that flows through London.

The trouble is that the banks just keep on adding fuel to the fire. Barely a week goes by without a story of ABC Bank offering squillions to poach XYZ bank's super duper forex derivatives equity share trading team.

Shielded in their top-floor offices in the towers of the mini-Manhattan that is Canary Wharf, and cooed at by any number of sycophantic yes-men, bank bosses appear not to realise that those headlines are going down with the public like a lead balloon. So badly, in fact, that the clamour for action is getting louder and louder.

Politicians are well aware that this country needs the City of London. They know that the consequences of losing the jobs and tax revenues it provides do not bear thinking about. They are partly responsible for encouraging the excesses that got us into this mess in the first place.

But as an election approaches and their own gravy trains are put at risk, there is a real danger that they will feel unable to resist the urge to just "do something", without too much thought for the consequences.

The banking industry needs to realise this. It is high time somebody told its high priests it is time to cool it. Not poaching that trading team might be a short-term disappointment. It might set back ambitions temporarily. But there will be a long-term benefit because history shows that the law of unintended consequences always applies when Westminster rushes into things. There is still time for bankers to take steps to put their own houses in order. But it is rapidly running out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea