Labour grandees join the bonus bashing backlash
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 10 February 2012
"Banker and bonus bashing" by leaders of all three main political parties is undermining British business and harming the nation's image abroad, senior Labour figures have warned.
Alistair Darling, the former chancellor, and Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary, have joined an industry-led backlash against the attacks on executives in line for big bonuses by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg. Political pressure forced Stephen Hester, the RBS chief executive, and directors at Network Rail to surrender their bonuses and saw Fred Goodwin, the former RBS boss, stripped of his knighthood. One senior business figure said: "Mr Cameron should show leadership and stand up for business rather than follow the baying mob, even if it makes him unpopular."
In a sign that Downing Street may soften its line, it declined to urge restraint at Barclays Bank, which is today due to announce its bonuses, including one for its chief executive, Bob Diamond, who may be entitled to a multi-million-pound payment.
Mr Darling told The Independent: "No matter what mistakes or gross errors of judgement individuals have made, we need to remember that this industry is vitally important for the whole country, not just the City of London. People are entitled to draw attention to some of the excesses and the fact that pay and bonuses don't seem to bear any relationship to results. But what we don't want is to compromise our position as one of the world's leading financial centres. The combination of what happened to Stephen Hester and Fred Goodwin can potentially be quite damaging to us."
The former chancellor, who has discussed his concerns with Mr Miliband, said the Labour leader understood the importance of a financial services industry which employs more than 1 million people. He said: "People expect certainty from the British Government. But in the past fortnight, the Prime Minister appears to be taking action on a whim. He looks like he is being blown around in the wind."
Directing his fire at all parties, Lord Mandelson said: "A pro-openness and pro-business cross party consensus has consisted under the last Labour and Tory governments and it would be wrong to put this at risk. Britain has a worldwide reputation for being welcoming and hospitable to business. In the highly competitive world we live in, that's gold dust. We will play around with this at our peril because real investment and real jobs are at stake."
Speaking in Sheffield last night, Mr Miliband hit back at George Osborne, the Chancellor, who on Tuesday criticised Labour's rhetoric. He said: "George Osborne says that action to tackle big bonuses is 'anti-business'. It is not. It is pro-business to demand responsibility at the top and an end to the something-for-nothing culture which has damaged our economy in the financial crisis at every level, wrecked businesses and left everyone else squeezed."
A new 'fat cat' target emerges
The woman appointed by David Cameron to get families back to work paid herself a dividend of £8.6m last year, most of which came from the taxpayer. During a grilling from the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, it was also revealed that Emma Harrison's company, A4e, had been awarded contracts worth about £160m and £180m last year as part of the Government's Work Programme, despite an "abysmal record" of fulfilling previous obligations. Committee member, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, called the fees paid to the firm "an outrage".
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...