Miliband urges bankers to reconnect

 

Ed Miliband warned bankers today they must wave goodbye to their culture of "excessive" bonuses and reconnect with the rest of the country.

In a speech in London's Canary Wharf financial district, the Labour leader urged a return to "one nation banking" which would serve the wider economy and society.

His appeal came at the end of what he called a "turbulent" week for the banking industry after disgraced former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood.

Mr Goodwin's successor at the majority state-owned bank waived his almost £1 million bonus amid intense pressure from politicians and the public.

Mr Miliband told the bankers in his audience at the Thomson Reuters Building that they needed to reflect "the values of Britain".

"We cannot have a banking sector so divorced from the rest of the economy and the rest of society," he said.

"We succeed or fail together. It is not about the politics of envy, it is about a culture of responsibility.

"We need what you might call 'one nation banking'. We need banks that serve the real economy. We need banking serving every region, every sector, every business, every family in this country.

"And we need banks run in a way that people believe are consistent with their values - the values of Britain."

He added: "Responsibility means ending the culture of excessive bonuses."

The Labour leader warned of a return to "two nations", the description of 19th century Britain used by Victorian Conservative prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.

The banking and financial sector was on a path of "gradual separation from the rest of society", he said.

"We are once again at risk of becoming a country separated economically, geographically and socially," he went on.

"We are once again at risk of becoming two nations in this country.

"That is not the kind of society in which I want to raise my children.

"And it is not the kind of society in which the vast majority of people in this country - including bankers - want to raise theirs."

Mr Miliband said banks, effectively underwritten by the taxpayer, could not be "immune" from public debate.

"This is a call for banking to recognise that continuing on its current path will lead to further isolation from society, greater public anger, more years in which each payday is a newspaper headline," he said.

"This is a call on banking to recognise that it should take the path of change, to recognise that it is not isolated from the economy or society."

In a question and answer session following his speech, Mr Miliband said the public sector must set "the best example" when it comes to high pay, as he pressed ministers to reveal who signed off the tax arrangements of Student Loans Company boss Ed Lester.

Earlier in the week, it was revealed Mr Lester was paid through a separate company, which enabled him to avoid paying thousands of pounds in tax. Mr Miliband also criticised six-figure bonuses at Network Rail.

He said: "I have been very concerned about what I have seen on the bonuses at Network Rail because if politicians are going to be concerned about what are seen as excessive bonuses in the banking sector, I think we should be equally concerned with organisations like Network Rail."

He added: "On the question of the Student Loans Company and the way the payments were made, there are many unanswered questions.

"I think the most important question is what did ministers know and when did they know it? My impression from watching parts of the exchanges yesterday in the Commons with Danny Alexander suggesting he hadn't known... but as I understand it there are documents coming to light which suggest that he was informed about what was happening.

"Similarly with Higher Education Minister David Willetts, did he know what was going on? If they did know, did they think it was a good idea or a bad idea and did they sanction it?

"I think there are really unanswered questions here about what was going on at the Student Loans Company. And there continues to be a question of whether income tax and National Insurance is going to be paid.

"All us have to understand that times are different and it is particularly important that the public sector sets the best example it can. These aren't just issues for the banking sector, these are issues which are broader as well."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower