I read with incredulity, on 4 March, that Barclays’ chief executive, Antony Jenkins, “saw his pay package jump from £1.6m to £5.5m”, and BP’s chief executive, Bob Dudley, “pocketed $12.7m (£8.3m) last year”. What is going on, and when are the institutional shareholders in these long established companies going to put a stop to this nonsense?
These gentlemen are nothing more than custodians and managers of institutions that were around and successful long before they became CEOs and will be around long after they retire or are dismissed. By all means allow genuine entrepreneurs to flourish and make money, but to reward the likes of Jenkins and Dudley at these levels of income, outrageous multipliers of the average wage of their employees and way in excess of what most of their predecessors were paid, is absurd, inequitable, and potentially divisive and dangerous.
To thrive at a time when the Government has a large deficit to reduce, public services are under pressure, and benefits are being cut, a successful capitalist society needs its business leaders to exercise some restraint.
Is it not time that they, as well as Stuart Gulliver at HSBC and the sundry other grossly overpaid public company CEOs, and such companies’ remuneration committees and institutional shareholders, reflected on such CEOs’ real worth to society and adjusted their pay packages accordingly?
There is much criticism about the standards in the public services: Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Oxford social workers, and hospital staff in Furness General Hospital. But is it the staff’s fault or is it due to the low status and pay attributed to the caring services?
Why is it that vast numbers of staff working in the caring services get little more than the minimum wage while those dealing with money are rewarded with salaries and bonuses many times greater.
It seems carers are chastised when they fail while those working in finance get bonuses for putting right their previous faults. There is a need to correct the imbalance between the considered worth of those who care for health and wellbeing and those who care for wealth.
No border checks on jihadi girls
As debate surrounding the three schoolgirl jihadi brides and Mohammed Emwazi continues, fingers are being pointed at the Turkish authorities, with the Turkish ambassador and Turkish Airline representatives summoned to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee later this month.
They would be entitled to respond to any criticism in relation to the three teenage girls travelling to Syria via Turkey by suggesting that the UK government should perhaps focus on putting its own shambolic border controls in order.
Hundreds of jihadists have travelled to Syria via Turkey, passing through UK border controls that quite simply don’t exist, much to the disgust of despairing counter-terrorist police and UK Border Force officers at our air and sea ports.
Little wonder that those organising the schoolgirls felt able to choose the most direct flight to Istanbul rather than a less obvious route via other airports. The chances of the girls even being spoken to by UK law enforcement officers were virtually non-existent.
Theresa May’s statements, including her most recent in the Commons that “exit checks” are being reintroduced from April, are breathtakingly disingenuous. There will still be no staffed controls as passengers leave the country. The exit checks refer to the computerised eBorders system, and virtually nothing changes other than the ability to “count” foreign visitors in and out.
Worthy as that may be, it will have no additional impact on jihadists and others travelling for nefarious purposes. They will still be able to enter and leave the UK with virtual impunity unless they have been placed on a watch list.
The border control policy of this government, faced by the greatest threat to national security since the Second World War, has been woefully inept.
Life beyond Westminster
There can only be broad agreement with Lord O’Donnell when he states that many MPs “just don’t get it” about the reality of life beyond the political elite (report, 5 March). However, we should not just rely on MPs to deliver public services. We all use them and we should all be involved.
We should all be politicians, engaged with our local communities (and nationally and internationally). Elsewhere in your newspaper on the same day there were stories that did not involve politicians: the covert filming at Harmondsworth detention centre, a play about young Muslim women becoming boxers, Sir Ian McKellen visiting a school. All these people are making a “political” stand.
Gus O’Donnell is correct to say that there are too many MPs who “just don’t get it”. And after the May election, if MPs salaries rise to £74,000, they will no longer be on what the Chief Executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has described as the “miserly amount” of £67,000. They will be even more out of touch with ordinary people.
In the 1980s, three of us in Parliament served our terms living on the average wage of a skilled worker; in my case, nine years at less than half an MP’s salary. The balance we gave to community campaigns, strike funds and charities.
Gus will be pleased to hear that this May there will be dozens of socialists and trade unionists standing in the general election who share the view that the best way to reflect ordinary people’s lives and problems in the House of Commons is to share the same standard of living as the majority, not to be insulated from those problems.
Chair, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Coventry
Non-doms pull their weight in tax
I am surprised at recent articles criticising the “non-domicile” tax regime.
My recent Freedom of Information request to HMRC revealed that there were only 110,700 non-doms in the tax year 2012/13 (the most recent available figures). Of these, 64,000 paid tax on their worldwide income and gains, with only 46,700 electing to pay tax on a non-dom or remittance basis.
Collectively non-dom taxpayers paid approximately £8.27bn of income tax and NI contributions in 2012-13. Those who claimed the remittance basis on average paid tax of £132,762 per person. This means that each non-dom claiming the remittance basis contributes on average 25 times more to the Treasury than the average UK taxpayer.
On these figures, we should encourage non-dom status, not scrap it.
Managing director, Mark Davies & Associates, Accountants, London WC2
Disposing of wind farms
It’s odd how whenever someone comes up with an argument against wind farms (letter, 28 February) they never examine the alternative.
When opponents of nuclear power worry about how to cope with ever-increasing piles of highly dangerous, radioactive nuclear waste we are blandly reassured that there will eventually be a scientific fix. Yet that fix has evaded top scientific brains for decades, despite the resources poured into it. There is no safe solution to the problem of nuclear waste.
I’m sure that a technical “fix” to the problem of safe disposal of sea-based windfarms will be found in a fraction of the time and costing a fraction of the money that has been spent on nuclear waste disposal.
Littleborough, Greater Manchester
Blame gangster capitalism
The most likely murderer of Boris Nemtsov on Moscow streets is an agent of one of the corporatist gangs whom, thanks to Yeltsin and the corrupt privatisation process, even Putin cannot control.
Why would Putin, with considerable public support, risk a public murder of an opposition leader? The gangland threat to those who try to expose corruption is the perennial threat to Russian economic advancement.
Watch out, Isis, we’re coming to get you
I wonder what would the outcome have been had the Allies in 1944 given the Germans as much advance notice of the timing and location of D-Day as the Iraqis are giving Isis of their intention to retake Mosul. Whatever happened to military secrecy?
Doors opening on an enchanted world
“Fairy doors” appear at the bases of trees in a Somerset wood (5 March). Sounds as though it’s time to contact the National Elf Service.