Cameron to let bankers off with extortionate bonuses

Rt Hon David Cameron MP speaking at the Conser...

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David Cameron has warned that it would be wrong to take “revenge” on the bankers despite the fact that it has emerged that thousands of bankers are in line for extortionate bonuses whilst the general public suffers with cuts, hikes in VAT and attacks on public services.

JP Morgan has revealed that it will give 10,000 Bristish-based staff an average of nearly £250,000. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which by the way is now 83% owned by us (the taxpayers), is set to pay around £1 billion in bonuses to staff. It is claimed that Goldman Sachs is to hand out £8 billion in salary and bonuses for 2010 (down from £10 billion for 2009), and Bob Diamond, the head of Barclays, is expected to be handed a “meagre” £8 million bonus for last year.

Whilst the general public suffers the brunt of the cuts, the hike in VAT, the removal of state support for many (such as with Derek Carpenter), the marketisation of our education system, the shakeup of the NHS, the attack on our public sector, the bankers are lavishing themselves with huge bonuses and giving themselves pats on the back for… what, exactly? Why are they not showing the slightest signs of remorse, or giving something back to the country that they helped bring to the edge of ruin? As the average citizen begins to feel the strain of the coalition’s measures, the banking sector simply carries on as usual.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Austerity Britain clearly hasn’t yet reached the City yet. Bankers are toasting telephone digit bonuses while the rest of us suffer swingeing cuts and tax rises”

The money lavished on excessive rewards could be better spent helping to rebalance our economy and encourage growth.”

Although the bankers have made the people “as mad as hell”, according to David Cameron, he has announced that he will not be imposing new punitive taxes on banks. This government once announced that “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest burden” as it strove to insist that its budget and spending review was “progressive”. Funnily enough, the very next day the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a study showing that the budget/spending review was, in fact, “regressive” and that the poorest will be hit hard. Undeterred, the government went on the defensive and insisted that its proposals were committed to “fairness”. Now, however, it appears as if their arguments are coming unraveled.

This was a chance for the coalition government to step up and to show, rather than state, how committed it was to “fairness” and “progressive” measures. As the banks begin to announce the huge sums of money to be paid out in salary and bonuses, the coalition government could have declared this completely and utterly unfair and could have used this opportunity to ensure that those with the “broadest shoulders” do actually contribute to the mess we are in.

Instead, Cameron said that: “There’s a part of me that says let’s go after these banks for everything we can get. That would look good for a few weeks, but we want a growing economy, creating jobs and that means banks lending money to businesses. What I’m trying to do is make sure the bonuses go down and the lending goes up and maximise the amount of tax they pay.”

It won’t be easy and won’t satisy everybody” he continued, “but we have to work for that balance rather than take revenge on those people because they make us mad as hell.”

If ever you wondered how out of touch Cameron was with reality, here is your proof. The issue here is not about taking “revenge” on the banks because people are “mad as hell”. It is about the banks contributing to the mess that they have helped create. It is about the banks showing remorse and cutting bonuses to staff rather than slapping the British public in the face. It is about banks not paying out billions in salary and bonuses as the public struggles. It is about “those with the broadest shoulders bearing the greatest burden”.

David Hillman of the Robin Hood Tax campaign criticised the banking sector, saying: “While bankers wallow in cash the general public are suffering unemployment and cuts to public services”. However, it does not appear as if this government is going to be doing anything about it any time soon. The “too big to fail” banks are a law to themselves, it appears, and the Prime Minister is too scared to ruffle their precious feathers to do anything about it.

Welcome to Conservative Britain.


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