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 celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before