Mark Steel: Bankers: eight billion years in jail should do it

Share
Related Topics

Instead of this pointless Vickers Report about how to sort out the banks, the investigation should have been carried out by Supernanny. She'd have sorted it.

Because the problem seems to be they've got no discipline. And governments have been like these soppy posh parents you get who watch their toddlers go berserk in public, and eventually say, "Polyglot, darling, I've warned you haven't I, about drilling through a stranger's leg with a masonry bit. Now please put the tools down or you won't get a canapé."

For example, David Cameron said the banks would face a "day of reckoning" for destroying the economy, which is true in that he's told them, "I reckon you can carry on doing whatever you want."

Now the Vickers Report suggests the banks should have two sections, one that's "ring-fenced" and behaves reasonably, and a separate wild part where they can carry on gambling with the country's finances, because we all need a bit of fun and relaxation sometimes. And the Government really means it because they've given the banks only eight years to put this in place or else.

The trouble is they're already squirming out of the report's suggestions, by arguing that anything that could slightly lower their profits will be damaging to the economy. So that's why they've carried on drawing the same bonuses as before – it's an act of generosity to protect the economy. When Bob Diamond of Barclays received £6.5m on top of his salary this year, he must have thought, "Oh no, I've got nowhere to put this. But if I don't accept it the economy might suffer so I suppose I should be community-minded and take it," and then I expect he spent it on setting up a hospital for sick mice.

The bankers often suggest it's in the country's interest they take this money. Because when they're asked why they should have it, none of them say, "So I can buy the South of France". Instead they make up something like, "If you look at the history of recessions, it's clear that if the banks' profitability is reduced, the nation tends to catch fire. So if we cut bonuses everything will burn to the ground, and that could threaten consumer confidence, as no one will go shopping because everything will be too hot."

One way to deal with this would be to make the rules consistent. So after an inquiry into the riots, the gangs would be given eight years to separate their regular mooches round shopping centres from their time looting Dixons. Or we could apply the same sentence to bankers as to looters for each pound's worth stolen. So as one looter was given four months for stealing two bottles of water, the average banker would be jailed for around eight billion years, though obviously they could be out in four billion for good behaviour.

But such stern measures would be unfair. It's not their fault they're irresponsible. They've been allowed to get away with it, with no boundaries or guidance to give them a sense of discipline. This is where Supernanny would be so helpful. Instead of dithering with unclear proposals, her report would go: "In order to ensure a stable banking system that may enhance sustainable economic growth, you'll get NO more salaries until you've worked off all those bonuses you swiped. So to start with Mr Goodwin, you're going to clean up all the leaves in Scotland. I don't care WHAT your prime ministers let you do, we've got new rules now."

For a while we'd have to endure bankers banging on the door and shouting, "I HATE YOU, give me my five million NOW!" and screaming "HOW can I invest in a HEDGE FUND while I'm on this stupid NAUGHTY STEP?" But eventually they'd learn self-respect and control, and then we could reward them with treats, so if they didn't take a Christmas bonus for being a director of a bank that had lost 80 million quid they'd get a day out at Alton Towers.

Because there's no such thing as a naughty banker, they just need to be shown how to behave.



React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants