Labour grandees join the bonus bashing backlash

 

"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".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle