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Bash-A-Banker

Nick Robinson | 10:56 UK time, Monday, 9 February 2009

It's Bash-A-Banker Week. Our MPs can hardly contain themselves.

Vince Cable wants to see them face the guillotine. Oh sorry, I forgot: he later said that that was a joke.

Fred GoodwinJohn Prescott is recruiting what he calls "an online army" to frighten them into submission and Hazel Blears wants women to storm bank boardrooms to clear out the excess testosterone. And all this before the "trial" of the "guilty men" - as many in Westminster hope they'll see when the Treasury Select Committee cross-examines Fred "the Shred" Goodwin, the man who made the RBS what it is today.

All this, of course, raises the question of what - if anything - can be done about those offending bonuses. The parties are much less clear than their rhetoric suggests. I'm going to try to find out what - if anything - they might actually do.

UPDATE 1300: As I suspected, there is a lot of political huff and puff about bonuses but few specific proposals for what should be done about them.

The prime minister, we're told, is "very angry". So angry that he wants bankers to consider waiving their bonuses voluntarily.

The Tory leader has attacked the government's slowness to act, declaring that "he who does the paying, does the saying", but he has not spelt out what more ministers could do. He too called on bankers to solve the problem, stating that they should "wake up and smell the coffee".

The Lib Dem leader has called the government's response "pathetic" and said he'd fully nationalise the failing banks. In the meantime, though, he says that bonus payments should be frozen in the semi-nationalised banks (ie RBS and Lloyds) whilst a new bonus structure is drawn up, based on shares and stock - not cash - which could only be cashed in after several years.

So why are the politicians finding rhetoric easier than concrete action?

All agree that the boards of semi-nationalised banks - RBS and Lloyds - shouldn't and will not get bonuses this year. All appear to agree that any ban on bonuses should not apply to the man or woman at the counter in a local bank branch.

All know that the real problem is those in-between - some of whom have contracts that guarantee them bonuses if they or their desk has performed well (even if their bank was saved from bankruptcy). RBS bought many businesses and now has them in 50 countries around the world. The body created by the government to look after the taxpayers' interests - the UKFI - is negotiating with RBS and Lloyds now.

All know that it will be easier to limit bonuses next year, as this can be made a condition for any bank taking advantage of the new plan to underwrite bank loans, so-called asset insurance.

All know that taxpayers picked up the bill to re-capitalise the banks last October after a weekend of emergency talks provoked by fears that some would collapse. Ministers promised that there would be "strings attached" for the billions of public money spent but, I'm told, "didn't have time" to work out which strings would be attached or how.

So, now our leaders are left sounding very, very cross but also rather impotent -rather as they have through much of this banking crisis.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    I have an American relative staying at the moment, and this morning he asked me who this Vince Cable was.

    I replied that he was somebody who had done something else before becoming a politician.

  • Comment number 2.

    The guillotine sounds frightening enough, but Haze; Blears suggestion of bringing the women in, sends shudders through any red-blooded man. The nasty Blears wants "women to storm bank boardrooms to clear out the excess testosterone." This sounds like sexism, but of course O'l Bleary Eyes can get away with it. The ultimate, ironic punishment would be to send in Jackboot Jackie, providing she can get out of her sister's spare room in time to deal with all the hormones!

  • Comment number 3.

    OK - bankers taking bonuses is bad ...
    MP's/ministers taking ridiculous expenses is all OK as within the rules (which MP's wrote themselves).

    Can anyone else sense a rather large double standard ?

    Fat cats versus hypocrites ?

  • Comment number 4.

    Quite right..Fred Goodwin should face the msuic and hand back his bonus.

    For the sake of consistency Gordon Brown should hand back hIs salary for having mismanaged the economy into a state of public sector bloated and overleveraged distress.

    Jacqui Smith should hand back her £158,000 of ecpenses for last year.

    Peter Mandelson should hand back his ermine for having helped out a Russian oligarch with a;uminium tariffs.

    Ed Balls should handback his salary and public sector pension for his egregious managing down of eductaion standards.

    Tony Blair should resign from his peace keeping mission as the man who promulgated an illegal war with Iraq clearly is not the man suited to keep the peace in the middle east.


    Call an election

  • Comment number 5.

    "I'm going to try to find out what - if anything - they might actually do."

    Watch this space some real journalism coming up.

  • Comment number 6.

    Treasury minister Yvette Cooper said any contractual or legal obligations on banks to pay bonuses at a time when they were making huge losses must be "challenged".

    "We have made very clear that as major shareholders in these banks we won't accept bonuses for failure," she told the BBC. "These do need to be curtailed."

    "I think there is a moral responsibility on some of these bankers, even if they are legally entitled to take bonuses, at a time when the bank is only still standing because of government intervention and why I think there is an important issue of needing to restore trust in the city, senior executives need to take responsibility and consider whether they should be taking bonuses."

    ===

    Substitute "Government Ministers" for "bankers"

    Substitute "Additional Costs Allowance" for "bonuses"

    And what you have is the typical hypocrisy spoken by this kleptocratic government.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 7.

    Nobody in government seems prepared to come out and enforce bonus restrictions. Chief secretary to the treasury was on the news this morning wafflinf rhetoric and claiming the banks ought do do the morally rigth thing.

    I am unsure as to what the government fears in demanding a bonuses clampdown by RBS and LBG.

    I also find it insulting for government ministers to waffle on about morality of taking legally entitled bonuses when government ministers seem to have crossed the said moral line regarding legally entitled MP's expenses!

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    The opposition is correct. Labour has bungled this. Too little, too late.

    The wrong message is being sent to the country.

  • Comment number 10.

    Clearly some impetus is needed to get top bankers to realise the error of their ways. If they insist on taking huge bonuses, perhaps the government should introduce a special tax rate for bonuses - say 80% of all earnings over £100,000. Not only would this recoup some of the taxpayers money but it might also encourage those with high bonuses from other industries (are there any?) to put some pressure on their colleagues!

  • Comment number 11.

    I'll tell you what can be done Nick: stop the bonuses now.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hardly surprising that a Government more interested in spin than substance is taking maximum opportunity to bash banking staff over bonuses.

    Had the Government properly understood the banking business it was bailing out, it would have looked into the whole issue of staff remuneration and factored an urgent review of pay and bonuses into its calculations; but such was the urgency to "save the world" that they jumped in with both feet and sacks of our money.

    Something over 5% of the bail out funds is due to be paid out in contractual bonuses. In better times, that's about a year's worth of interest or recovery.

    Some many jumping on the blame bandwagon, so few taking responsibility for their incompetence.

    Which in a way, brings us neatly on to the latest "scam" alleged against a serving Government minister. Until our Government can start acting decently, morally and legally, why should any of us trust anything they tell us?

  • Comment number 13.

    Politicians of all parties are competing with each other to see who can be the nastiest to wicked bankers. Great fun, and part of the class war loved by politicians. However, it needs to be tempered by an acknowledgement of how important the City still is to our economy (and remember that it's far larger than just the UK banks we have been discussing).

    We need to distinguish between:
    a) senior executives of UK banks that are partially owned by us and were in post before the current crisis: should receive no bonus
    b) senior executives of UK banks that have been recruited since the crisis: cash bonus should be capped, but share options that cannot be exercised for at least 5 years may be granted
    c) senior executives of UK banks that are not owned by us: same as b) above
    d) the remaining 99% of bank staff: should be decided by bank management
    e) staff and management working for foreign banks: should be decided by bank management unless restricted internationally.

    The long term solution is to reward senior bankers by means of share options to reward long-term success. This should be co-ordinated internationally as part of a new regulatory framework.

    We need a prosperous banking system as it's still a large slice of our economy but we also need, of course, to reward only responsible behaviour. Regulating bonuses are a necessary but not sufficient condition to achieve this.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm glad the government has taken this step. The public will not be happy at all if they see top level bankers being rewarded with taxpayers money for failure

    You can't subject the average bank worker to a no-bonus clause (if that's what they will do) as most have had nothing to do with the bad decisions made by top management

    The top bankers need to be punished for their errors of judgement, we need to get back to rewarding people for good decision making - not short term profits. Bonuses should be linked to medium/long term success and not quarterly profits

    If they start crying and threaten to leave - let them. We don't want them or need them. Let's start again with a different culture based on having a sound business

  • Comment number 15.

    The self righteousness of this government is unbelieveable, not only are they using the bank bonuses as an excuse to hide their own incompetence, they seek public sympathy by claiming to be against the payment of bonuses to bankers. They will not stop the fat cats receiving their bonuses, what they will do is , stop the ordinary hard working bank employees who have probably earned their bonus from receiving it. It would be more in the public interest to come down hard on their own cabinet ministers who milk the system , as allegedly the home secretary has been doing over the last few years. This would be a good target for some investigative journalism from the BBC, but this I suspect will not happen because no doubt , you and your colleagues have already been warned off by the Nu Lab pit bulls.

  • Comment number 16.

    No lessons have been learnt.

    As soon as the banks get their confidence back (how long that will be, however, I guess no one knows), we'll be back on the same treadmill, to the same ends.

    The ridiculous bonuses paid to Northern Rock and possibly to RBS show that even those that have ridden the gravy train to destruction still have the same old corporate mindset.




    And the politicians will only bash for so long, in the end the money involved will turn their heads just as it has for the past 30 years.

  • Comment number 17.

    The trouble with all this is that Govts have been complicit with the banks in causing the recession/depression. In this country Gordon Brown was more than happy to go along with things as on the surface the economy appeared to be so buoyant and did not want to do anything to rock the boat.

    Now the truth has come out, Gordon has switched the blame game from the american sub prime market, as the cause of the recession, to the issue of bonuses planned for bank staff. The PM probably thinks there is more politicial mileage to be made by attacking the bankers which he hopes will be a popular move with the electorate.

    One should not mess with a wounded animal in case it bites back. If the bankers feel they are being made a scap goat by the PM they may well join forces and turn on him. After all he was Chancellor for a decade and he knew full well what was going on and chose not to do anything about it. He is hardly in an ideal position to complain now.

    It is rather ironic that one of his ministers (Ms Smith) appears to be paying off her sister`s mortgage whilst staying with her a few nights now and then. Calling a bedroom in her sister`s home her main residence is really stretching things a tad.

    Ms Smith says she has done nothing wrong and everything is above board. No rules have been broken. Bit like the case with the bankers isn` it?

    Prime Minister - If you live in a glass house one should not throw stones.

    Don`t think we have heard the last of this.








  • Comment number 18.

    What indeed....

    one can already hear the gallop of hooves echoing sonorously into the distance, interrupted only by the hollow banging thud of the stable door....

  • Comment number 19.

    Could you please explain the difference between Jacqui Smith and the Bankers?
    They are both in receipt of public money, neither of them have done anything wrongboth should have seen the crisis coming and done something about it and both will carry on exactly as they have been doing filling their pockets at public exoense and then retire on very good pensions.
    It is double standards for MPs to start calling for tighter standards for bankers than they are willing to impose on themselves.

  • Comment number 20.

    I heard Yvette Cooper talking about bankers doing the "morally correct" thing this morning on the "Today Programme".

    Does that apply to Govt ministers? Is it not morally questionable the way that she and Mr Balls, or Ms Smith have claimed their housing allowances? (that goes for any other MPO from any other party)

    A couple of questions:

    Is it right that Ms Smith needs extra funding for her personal protection because she "lives" with her sister for 3 nights a week and not in the Grace and Favour flat she is entitled to?.

    Does Ms Smith's sister pay tax on the "income" she receives from her sister to live with her?

  • Comment number 21.

    If the Government want to influence the bonuses of taxpayer supported banks (Lloyds Banking Group & RBS), then fine.

    But what right do the Government have to influence the bonuses of privately owned, non-supported banks? Surely they are entitled to do whatever they want with their own money? And are the government forgetting the taxes they get off these large bonuses?

  • Comment number 22.

    The simple answer is no bonuses. NO. It's a short word that can't be misunderstood.

    The Great Leader and his sidekick chancellor ahve been asleep at the wheel regarding this issue (and many others).

    I want to know how the Great Leader can claim to be leading the world (first he saved it, now he is leading it?!) in sweeping away the old short term bonus culture of the past and replacing it with a determination that there are no rewards for failure and rewards only for long-term success. I thought Obama made his announcment on this last week? Odd...

    Also, how does the great Leader expect to make these changes when he has a banking insider doing the review?

    I am normally poles apart politically from John Prescott but I will support his online campaign. The government and the banks are taking us all for fools and it has to stop!

    I hope the Great Leader and his spin doctors are aware of the anger that is building in the country. It might jsut blow up in their faces.

  • Comment number 23.

    Coal-face traders who have made genuine profits- the kind which are based on an actual gain, not a paper one which may be lost at any time- for their companies should be properly rewarded. I'm talking 6 figure sums at most, not the kind of nonsense we've seen before.

    Those senior directors of many banks [who have not already paid with their jobs] where huge losses have been announced should get nothing. Those who were in charge of these banks when the decisions which led to the losses were made, 2002-7 in particular, should be fired and in many cases prosecuted for negligence / fraud.

  • Comment number 24.

    I would have to agree with Vince Cable on his comments.
    The only proviso is that there should be a minimum share price at which the share options should be exercised otherwise they will be making a killing in 5 years time.

    I am fed up with people getting bonuses on performance when the stock market performs well, not taking a hit on the bear market, then getting another bonus on the inevitable bear that follows. Ratcheting bonuses should be banned.
    The UK stockmarket is no higher than it was 10 years ago, investors and Pension funds are being skinned by these managers.

  • Comment number 25.

    Alistair Darling was ridiculed last night after it emerged that the Treasury's new review into City bonuses will not be completed until the end of the year – by which stage some banks will have already partially paid out their 2009 rewards.

    Sir David Walker, the former chairman of Morgan Stanley, has been ordered to "leave no stone unturned" in an independent review of the banking bonuses and corporate governance but, although Sir David will consider new controls over City bonuses, including caps on payments and claw-backs on cash paid in previous years, his review will do nothing to affect bonus policies either for 2008 or, most likely, for 2009.

    Sir David will not publish his preliminary conclusions until the autumn and the final report will only arrive at the end of the year. Although the Treasury said his work would "inform" the Budget, by the time the final report is produced some banks will have already started paying out bonuses for this year.
    ===

    Have a review.

    Nothing is done.

    Issue a statement "Lessons have been learned."

    Soundbites in the press.

    Nothing changes.

  • Comment number 26.

    Is Nick Robinson operating some kind of job share with Robert Peston? Sorry to dismay the resurgent grandantidote and many other Labour supporters here, but for me the last line or two of this mornings Robinson offering is telling.


    ......... I'm going to try to find out what - if anything - they might actually do.......

    What a shame Robinson can pursue a fairly anodyne subject whilst not not applying the same tenacity to Lord Mandelson and his new Russian friend.

    No doubt at all though, whether the big banks won, lost or drew last year, those in charge probably have their bonuses set in stone in the form of a contract. I believe the weight of adverse publicity surrounding the sector will do more than any political pressure to determine whether or not bonuses are actually paid. I think Peston alluded to a similar thing last week and touched on the alternative of additional shares in lieu of cash, either way the "fat cats" won't be getting much slimmer in the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 27.

    You are correct when you say the Parties don't know what to do. I watched Cameron on TV this morning and he first said no Bank Employee should get a bonus. when asked about poorly paid cashiers, he went red amd immediately contradicted himself. Also for a man who goes on ad nauseum about not getting straight answers why can't he give a straight answer to questions about Lord Ashcroft?

  • Comment number 28.

    When I worked for a huge financial institution six years ago, which shall remain nameless, our salary increases were dependent upon the grade given to us at our annual assessment by our managers. A grade 4 was an increase commensurate with the cost of living for instance.

    The bonus, however, was at management's discretion and this was written into the contract of each member of staff. Therefore, when at the LAST recession we were initially given a lower percentage bonus and the subsequent FOUR years absolutely no bonus at all, there was complete acceptance.

    Many people rely on their bonus to pay for their holidays, Christmas, etc. People should only rely on their guaranteed disposable income and not bonuses.

  • Comment number 29.

    "Speaking in London on Monday morning Mr Brown said: "We are leading the world in sweeping away the old short term bonus culture of the past and replacing it with a determination that there are no rewards for failure and rewards only for long-term success." "

    Yet more grandstanding and empty posturing from our delusional PM. If only he'd listened to the "do nothing" tories and stopped bonuses when we bailed out the banks. But as usual we get the predictable response: No decisive action, yet lots of strong words and another review.

  • Comment number 30.

    Only one side of the story again Nick?

    Even the staunchly unionist Scotsman manages Government and its former friends face uncomfortable day as links come under spotlight with some unusally anti-NuLab sentiment over the impending meeting of the Treasury select committee at Westmidden. I particularly liked the following snippet:

    "What risks being exposed is not simply the mistakes of the bankers, but their closeness to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, as well as the Labour hierarchy's part in the current economic collapse. One Treasury committee member told The Scotsman he would be checking for the Prime Minister's fingerprints on the 'smoking gun'."

  • Comment number 31.

    Brown angry about city bonuses , I am very angry about ministers expenses claims . "they're within the rules" but what about personal responsibilty and judgement ? yet another snout in the taxpayers trough

  • Comment number 32.

    Sounds to me like the ideal opportunity for the government to introduce some sort of personal 'windfall tax' for those receiving a bonus, who have not earned it in some quantifiable way, such as through improved productivity or profitability.

    Or is that too simple?

  • Comment number 33.

    What about the taxpayers justifiable anger at MPs and Peers who claim spurious second home, travel and "secretarial" expenses. Can we have a public enquiry about that?

  • Comment number 34.

    Looks like Labour deflecting the heat from Gordon Browns' incompetencies of the last 12 years if you ask me.

    I'm not saying the bankers don't deserve a damn good thrashing. But as the Chancelor who over saw (or even over looked) the impending crisis, he deserves to take a lot of the flak.

  • Comment number 35.

    I suspect that most people will follow the politicians lead that it is morally reprehensible for bankers to take (big) bonuses that they may legitimately take because of their contract conditions.

    Is it equally morally reprehensible for politicains (such as the Home Secretary) to lodge with relatives and then claim that their family home is the second home and so claim hundreds of thousand of pounds in allowances?

    I believe that the House of Commons needs to get its own house in order - a crusade which should be helped and not hindered by the Speaker and the PM

  • Comment number 36.


    Still can't understand why the government didn't draw up the lines at the time the money was being put into the banks. Commonsense at least, if not good business practice.

    Now the question is - is the government merely following other world leaders - America and France - or making decisions based on the strong feeling in the country?

    Either way, it is NOT leadership.


  • Comment number 37.

    "I'm going to try to find out what - if anything - they might actually do."


    Nick,

    Well only the Labour party are in government and in a position to actually 'do' anything.

    The government have routinely fobbed off journalists with waffle throughout this crisis. I wish you luck in getting any straight answers out of them.

  • Comment number 38.

    I said at the time and I maintain now that it was wrong to save the banks. True some banks would have gone under, with some complications, but not all banks were up to the same tricks. The more conservative banks would have survived and taken the business of the failures.

    The current question on bonuses would then not have arisen because those claiming the bonuses would not have a job.

    My husband's company has not been able to give pay rises let alone bonuses for about two years now. It has recently announced a 10% cut in the workforce worldwide. It is obscene for bonuses to be paid to any staff working for now nationalised banks.

    .

  • Comment number 39.

    I have a dream....yes I have a dream and in that dream we get rid of most of the current government.

    I'd like to to see a government to include:
    Robert Peston, John Humphrys, Vince Cable, Richard Branson and of course, your good self, Nick. Let's sort this mess out.

    Any more names?

  • Comment number 40.

    What a wimp out!! Brown really avoids the situation - to say "executives should "consider whether they actually receive" bonuses even if legally entitled to them." -

    Asking people who are planning to pay themselves a bung of money to decide if they should or not - that is just plain stupid, it is clear what they will decide. He needs to act like a leader and take action, or give up the job and retire. No good is coming of his wimpish management.

    LOJO

  • Comment number 41.

    If we are going to have a class war against the bankers (John Prescott and others) then on which side of the barricades are Premiership footballers? Some earn over 100,000 a week (5 million a year) and, as Scolari (Chelsea's manager) pointed out recently, this is paid however well or badly they play. Or even try, I would add.

    Hope this isn't moderated. it is on topic.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nice try Nick

    "Labour activists are up in arms"
    Is that the 'massage' I'm supposed to get from your topic.

    It should have been done before at the time of the bailouts when Cameron & Cable were asking Brown what he would do about bonuses in the banks. (No mention of this)

    As always Brown is never pinned down by the media so now we have an enquiry that will report after the Bankers have been paid their bonuses. (No mention of this failing)

    The Brown Depression is going to devastate this country.

    And all you can do is try to put out the best possible gloss for the government when they can be seen by everybody to have failed us.

    Labour should resign.

    And so should you.

  • Comment number 43.

    The problem with employee bonuses in the banking system is that they tend to be contractual, as in set out in the employment contract. Some bonuses may be performance related, so there is scope for flexibility if the performance targets are capable of reassessment.

    When bonuses are guaranteed, they are no different to a basic salary. This is where the fun starts because you cannot just go and chop wages. Employees have enforceable rights in the resepct.

    Moving on, companies could adopt the same sort of stance as KPMG, the business advisers. They have asked staff if they would like to take 3 month sabbaticals, on a reduced pay or work only a 4 day week. If staff agree this is a voluntary change in the employment contract, and this then becomes an agreed change in terms between employer and employee.

    Now, if the board of say, RBS says to staff, "Look team, the bank has not got the funds to pay bonuses this year. They only way in which we can do so is to borrow the money off several generations of British taxpayer. It would look better if we all refuse our bonuses this year."

    There could still be more problems. RBS staff might like those at KPMG, see the long term benefit of cooperation and volunteer to give up their bonuses. They might lynch the management , they might move jobs (although vacancies are somewhat low) or still sue the bank, this time for being forced into changing their contract terms against their will.

    I think that staff will try and hang on to their bonuses, as these are what drive many of them.

    Note on share bonuses:
    It is understood that many of these staff bonuses will only be paid out in shares, many of which are very low in value at the moment. We know as we have seen from past market crashes that share prices will rise up steeply when things straighten out. Share bonuses paid out in taxpayer supported banks have quite a good possibility of becoming very valuable.
    I would be interested to see the small print in any new employee share plan. My guess is that even the esteemed members of the Treasury Select Committee do not appreciate what sort of benefits may result from share awards.

    Note on other benefits:
    Bank staff typically have the best pensions and cut price mortgages and other financial products too. Lets not forget the whole remuneration package.

  • Comment number 44.

    Let all the bankers award themselves any amount of bonus, but just make this subject to a tax rate of 100%

  • Comment number 45.

    Do the MP's have no sense of irony, criticising the bankers, whilst claiming expenses for their second homes?


    Just as well the home secretary has done nothing technically illegal, would the Met be raiding her sisters house and arresting her?

    Maybe the guillotone should extend to MP's and bankers

  • Comment number 46.

    For shame Nick - all this talk of bankers bonuses and not a whisper about the latest devastating Labour scandal to hit the news. What about Jacqui Smith and her disgraceful misappropriation of taxpayer's funds. How on earth can lodging 3-4 days a week at her sister's place make this her 'main' residence. Even if the definition of 'the place where an MP spends most nights' is valid (which it shouldn't be!!, only the most supine of civil servants could have agreed to that) then what about holidays and those long periods when parliament isn't sitting. There needs to be a major shake up on parliamentary expenses. No claims allowed for second homes and secure accommodation provided and paid for by the state for those MPs staying in London away from home.
    Just how many pensioners are shivering at home, trying to make ends meet, whilst these leeches milk the system for all they're worth.

  • Comment number 47.

    I was made redundant last month.

    I couldn't put into print exactly how I feel about this bunch of b......s. I'd probably get moderated.

  • Comment number 48.

    Nick, it would help if some of our politicians owned up to their share of 'contributory negligence' to the banking bonus debacle - I can't recall many making much noise a couple of years ago when the City was generating vast 'profits' for the state as well as for its participants.

    Lax regulation and oversight over the last decade or so has been a significant factor in getting us into this current recession. Methinks some of our politicians are making as much noise as they can in the hope we'll ignore their part until the news agenda moves on.

    Light-touch regulation, anyone?

  • Comment number 49.

    If RBS had been taken into administration, rather than a form of powerless nationalisation, there would be no talk of bonuses - just P45s.

    The political question is why didn't this happen ? Is the answer because it was a Scottish bank and Brown and Darling are Scottish MPs?

    Brown perhaps protests too much over bonuses to cover this.

  • Comment number 50.

    Come on BBC. Almost 2 hours, 46 previous comments, not one moderated yet?

    What is going on?

  • Comment number 51.

    This story really seems to have legs - as Ben Brogan said on BBC, a handy distraction for ministers !

    The solution, which should satisfy most reasonable objections - and objectives - is to pay bonus in shares that will only be worth anything if (a) the banks are not fully nationalised and (b) instead are sold back to the public sector at a profit to the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 52.

    Strikes me as a little bit of smoke and mirrors to distract our attention from other more pressing issues - certainly a trick this government have pulled many a time before!

    No word on Jackboot Jacqui's housing expenses? MP's expenses generally?Mandleson's mortgage or his stay on the yacht? Glenrothes by-election irregularity? Surveillance State 3.0 with the announcement of the travel database?

    Personally I'm sick of hearing about the bankers and how they're all once-removed from Satan himself.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi Nick,

    So no bog entry or investigation into Jacqui Smith’s expenses – why?

    Let’s just surmise what the Mail has found out. Between 2001-2007 our Home Secretary claimed £116,000 under the second home allowance scheme. These monies were designed to help MPs fund second homes in London. Nothing wrong with that – any employer who requires their employee to work away from his or her home (for long periods) should reimburse living expenses.

    During her time in London - Miss Smith is living in her sister’s house; for an average of 3-4 nights a week. For this she is paying what her office describes as a market rent. But what is the market rate? The Mail has quoted local estate agent estimates of £100 a week (£400 a month). This seems a bit low to me – so let’s double it. So £800 a month is a reasonable claim.

    But Miss Smith has claimed £116,000 in 6 years, at a rate of £19,333.33 PA.
    Divide 19,330 by 12 and we have a monthly claim of £1,610 or a weekly rate of £402.50. This is clearly well above the market rate. So either our Home Sec. is using taxpayer’s cash to subsidize her sister's mortgage or she is pocketing the difference. So a question for you Nick – have you or any other BBC journalist actually bothered to press her office as to how much she is paying her sister? If yes, why haven’t you told us of this enquiry and her reply?

    But of course, Miss Smith is somewhat dubiously claiming that her London residence (with her sister) is her main home. Despite A) spending fewer nights per week at this address than her consistency home and B) her husband and children living in Redditch home. However, this definition creates a number of other problems – if her husband is looking after the children at home, whilst she is living and working in London, then how can he be her paid parliamentary assistant (circa £40,000 PA)? After all, common-sense would seem to dictate that a parliamentary assistant (as opposed to a constituency secretary) should be based in London; so as to work hand in glove with the MP – not based two hundred miles away from both parliament and the main residency of the said MP. It would certainly seem to be a curious and inefficient arrangement. Given his circumstances – can it really be argued that Mr. Smith was the best candidate for this publicly funded job? Unlikely. Has the BBC sought any reassurance or proof that Mr. Smith is carrying out the work for which he is paid? [Letters to local papers praising his wife anonymously don’t count].

    After all, this affair has the whiff of Derek Conway about it and we know what happened to him. Quite right too – but why are the BBC and indeed – you yourself Nick – less interested in Labour / GVN sleaze than Tory sleaze? Remember, Peter Mandelson still hasn’t given a full account of his relationship with Oleg Deripaska. Why do you and your BBC colleagues repeatedly fail to ask our Business Secretary to account for this lack of transparency? Then there is cash for questions – the Hamilton’s do it and the BBC can’t stop talking about it. Quite right! But, in the labour Lords scandal the BBC take a back seat – where are the probing insights into Lord Moonie’s curious record of defence questions – no Parliamentary questions for three years, gains paid consultancy with Northrop Grumman Corp and then low and behold, 23 questions pertaining to defence work/contracts relating to Northrop. Yet from the BBC’s chief political correspondent, not even an enquiry.

    You need to get on top of this story Nick. The public are sick and tried of sleaze from all quarters – no doubt the Tories are still up to their necks in it as well – and it won’t stop until reporters like you, hold our elected officials to count, by naming and shaming. So why not just ask our Home Secretary next time she’s on the telly, how she justifies charging the taxpayer £1610 per month, for a house share? It is not a market rent, it is a rip-off and if any her subordinates put in such a ludicrous claim they would be lucky to keep their job – many would argue that they should go to jail. So why should Jacqui be any different.

    No wonder politicians and bankers seem to get on so well.

  • Comment number 54.

    The politicians just don't get it, do they?

    They're as guilty as the bankers for crafting and sustaining the monetary and regulatory frameworks that unleashed the bankers' greed. Between them, the two groups have connived to perform at best incompetently and at worst like dishonest, self-serving rogues.

    The anger of our political masters with bankers is as nothing compared with the incandescent rage of ordinary people like me. We're about to endure at least 10 years of austerity, if we're lucky. Many businesses and indivduals will be ruined.

    Meantime, the bankers will live off their immoral earnings of the past decade and the politicians will live off their gilded expense accounts and gold-plated pensions.

    Since our democratic and political processes are now collapsing as fast as our economy, I wonder how long it will be before it gets to this in the UK?

    http://tinyurl.com/cn5mh5

  • Comment number 55.

    Anything to detract attention from Politicians earnings / expenses, lets put the boot in. Quite frankly there more than one kind of trough to feed from for some others. These particular parasitical captains of banking industry should be facing jail terms, period!

  • Comment number 56.

    Given the state of the economy for which they are responible, presumably Hector Sants of the FSA, Mervyn King of the Bank of England and the numerous Treasury mandarins who monitor our economic well being will forgo the millions in bonuses due to be to be paid to them this year?

  • Comment number 57.

    I cannot understand why this is such a difficult area for the Government to sort out. All they have to do is say any bank which is using tax payers money will not be giving bonuses. The Government now owns 70% of RBS and should be able to stipulate, that 1 Billion in bonus payments will not be paid. Government say they are having a review, but all the bonus payments will have been made by then.

    However I am very suspicious of the Government in this area. I tend to believe that now they have made the banks public enemy no one, they want to keep the pressure on the banks and off their own failings in this crisis. For example, Browns change in regulation in 1997 and his inability to see this credit bubble mounting.

    It also smacks of hypocrisy, when you consider also the amount MPs are making out of the tax payer as well, through their own expenses. Primarily those in the Labour Party.

  • Comment number 58.

    My questions to bankers:

    1. If you had a business unable to service its loan to you, you'd take over the business, wouldn't you?
    2. If that happened, would you want the failing management how to tell you to fail all over again?
    3. Would you sanction management paying themselves a massive bloody bonus just before defaulting on the covenants of the loan?
    4. Would you bail them out and let them pay themselves another bonus afterwards?
    5. If the answers to those are yes, no, no and no then do you begin to understand why your new banker HMG is feeling a bit pissed off?
    6. If not, go and do 5 years unpaid charity work to develop sufficient sensitivity and responsibility to answer question five in the affirmative.
    7. Are there any questions you'd like to ask us, as a disgraced banker who's brought the UK banking system to its knees?


    Ok time's up: sod off then!

  • Comment number 59.

    There is one thing that you can be sure.
    It was Brown who made the banking law.
    So we may all hanker,
    To go bash a banker.
    But Brown has some blame to endure!


    clunkingfist

  • Comment number 60.

    One the one hand ministers seem quick to condemn City bonuses but on the other shamefully milk the system over second homes allowances.
    The double standards were laid bare by your colleague John Humphrys on the Today programme, when he confronted Yvette Cooper over the home secretary's second home and her own.
    Real journalism at work there, Nick.
    As I've pointed out, John captured a mood and didn't let a government minister get away with it.

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/scandal-of-second-homes-secretary-smith.html

  • Comment number 61.



    With all these shenanigans going on with RBS and bonuses.

    The current governments stock answer to have an inquiry on the matter. To prevent such unscrupulous things happening again.

    Hang on don?t we now own RBS?

    The question has to be asked.

    Why the bloody hell can Brown and his amateurs not PLAN anything! There is never any for thought into what they do.

    Yup the country will buy your bank to save it, but you can spend what you like one yourselves, it?s on our flick after all.

    Yup we?ll invade your country and completely remove your infrastructure, creating mass unemployment, international resentment, and create an open door policy for foreign insurgency, resulting in many deaths.

    Yup we?ll reduce the VAT on luxury goods for a year, at cost to the retailer and at the cost of a few billion quick ?to kick start the economy?

    Northern Ireland
    10p Tax
    Foot and Mouth

    There are more but I?m getting angry.

    The bottom what was in the contract signed when the government took over the highest stake in the RBS? I?m guessing true to government form nothing to protect Tax payer?s interests as usual.

    Every action the government takes is a scared knee jerk response to public outrage.

    They chase the fancy sound bite, label it and issue it never with a thought of what the consequences may be.

    The only clause that I recall that actually was given weeks of alimentary time and debate was Fox hunting, obviously an issue that greatly affects us all in our daily lives, and even that was a nonsense, and also un policeable.

    We as a nation deserve much better than this.

  • Comment number 62.

    "I'm going to try to find out what - if anything - they might actually do." Nick Robinson.

    Well do you think that your update may appear before any of these 60~ish comments are moderated? It's been 2 hours plus and NOT ONE MODERATED YET?

    Is this due to the BBC being: pathetic, appalling, amateurish, negligent, or incompetent?

    Or all the above?

  • Comment number 63.

    Well, all to the good if politicians have sensed as a serious political reality the anger underlying the public response to the economic dangers facing them, even if this seriousness is rather offset by the appearance of Hazel Blears in a bizarre cameo role. Perhaps as this post seems to be acquiring a flvaour of the Baftas I should close...

  • Comment number 64.

    Good grief, two hours to moderate any post?

    Very long lunchbreaks down at Wood Lane!!

  • Comment number 65.

    "Speaking in London on Monday morning Mr Brown said: "We are leading the world in sweeping away the old short term bonus culture of the past and replacing it with a determination that there are no rewards for failure and rewards only for long-term success."

    So where does that put the Crashmeister's claim to a bonus? Twelve years after taking charge, the country increasingly looks like we're back in the Seventies.

    Also, is it only me, or is Gordon Brown's insistence that he is leading the world on everything not starting to sound more than just a little delusional?

  • Comment number 66.

    'Global'(we can no longer call him Gordon) Brown & his team of stooges are using every trick in the book to try to deflect from their responsibility for the financial mess into which they have brought the UK.

    The electorate will speak very clearly when the General Election comes.

  • Comment number 67.

    How many Tory MPs have paid directorships of banks in addition to their MP salary? Should they really be paid twice by taxpayers?

  • Comment number 68.

    I would love to be present at Dave and Georges monthly dinner party for Bankers when the pair explain that they are extremely cross with their Banking Buddies and that they are against any bonuses this year. You couldn't make it up could you?

  • Comment number 69.

    So lets get this straight?

    Flash Brown is very angry and wants bankers to consider waiving their right to their bonus’- I can hear the bankers quaking in their prada shoes (WITH LUAGHTER).

    Yvette Cooper is trying to appeal to the Bankers moral righteous nature.

    Harriet wants women to get a slice of the big bonus' (and not speak about her profitable sub letting on the backs of the tax payer)

    Mr Darling says he really can understand the publics anger - honestly he can!

    ITS COMICAL, SURELY WHEN THE WORLD HAS MANAGED TO STOPPED LUAGHING IT WILL BE WITHDRAWING ANY CONFIDENCE THAT’S LEFT AT THIS DRIED UP EXCUSE OF UNELECTED LEADERSHIP FOR OUR COUNTRY.

    SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ? FAST ! (VINCE CABLE AS LEADER OF AN EMERGENCY GOVERNMENT ?)

    BUT ALL WE GET IS SORROWFUL ATTEMPTS AT PR SOUND BYTES THAT CONTINUE TO INSULT AND ALIENATE THE MASS’.

  • Comment number 70.

    If you have a large pack of very hungry guard dogs in a secure area, then they can do what they do best in safety. If you remove their boundaries by leaving gates wide open and they start eating the public, then who is to blame? The dogs or the people that removed the boundaries?

    The Bankers were (wrongly) only doing what comes naturally to them. They are greedy by necessity. If they were not, then they would not make money at all. They are greedy nasty and awful people, but, when *appropriately* regulated they make a "modern society" work.

    It was always a mistake to remove the checks and balances in the way that Gordon Brown did when he gave independence to the Bank of England and I do not write this purely from a sense of hindsight. I was writing these things when the Gordon Brown first made the bank independent. I take NO pleasure from being proved right.

    Gordon was incompetent then, and now he owns 70% of RBS he is even MORE incompetent, impotent and irrelevant than ever!

    Call an election so we can ALL write "none of the above" at the bottom of the ballot.

  • Comment number 71.

    Fat cat politicians baying at fat cat bankers

    Im still waiting for the update on the last post... much more interesting... any news.


    1. I know more than a few female investment bankers, they make Ross Kemp look like a 7 year old girl.

    2 This is all bull and rhetoric, They know it and you know it. If the city gets too restrictive or on unrewarding then at the click of a mouse the money will flow east.

    And given that we dont actually make anything any longer and rely heavily on a cut from financial services and trading; our options are minimal.

    This is just politicians jostling for prime pos in terms of who talks toughest.



  • Comment number 72.

    Sorry Harriet - I mean Jaqui Smith, how could one possibly get those two mixed up!

  • Comment number 73.

    22 Andy-London

    I am normally poles apart politically from John Prescott but I will support his online campaign. The government and the banks are taking us all for fools and it has to stop!

    ..............................................................


    I do agree with you, Andy. But I can't help wondering what's in it for John Prescott?

  • Comment number 74.

    Utter incompetence!

    That a 'No Bonus' condition wasn't written into the bailout breaks a new and frequently tested record for Labour ineptitude.




  • Comment number 75.

    I find all of the Tory outrage about Jacqui Smith's expenses totally hypocritical after the Conway scandal and the Winterton's claiming expenses to pay the rent for a house that they actually owned. Still if you have a PR chief who worked for the News of The World until he was forced to resign what do you expect?

  • Comment number 76.

    My response to Labour's position on bank bonuses:

    Dither, obfuscation, hypocricy and spin.

    But then, what's new?

  • Comment number 77.

    These are banks that have simply failed. The contracts should be considered null and void as without our money they would not be employed. The rescue of the banks was not for there benefit but for the good of the country. The leaders of the banks have been obtaining these vast and overpaid bonuses knowing what was coming to the rest of us. No share or other payments should be made and as a previous comment suggested a special tax on any bonus perhaps 95% would discouage any foolhardy payments.

    Next stop our MP's who have plenty of excess to be returned.

  • Comment number 78.

    "The prime minister, we're told, is "very angry". So angry that he wants bankers to consider waiving their bonuses voluntarily."

    Ha ha! Brilliant!

    Did Gordon stamp his little feet when making this statement? Did he throw a little hissy fit at the end of the press conference?

    The second you have to rely on somebody doing something voluntarily, the system will invariably fail. It just depends how long it takes to fail.

    I think plenty of people have already given the example of MPs who are supposed to give best value for their expenses, something which evidently doesn't happen.

    It doesn't happen because it's voluntary.

    But let's make a point of being angry and see what happens, by all means. Let them do what they want but I will be angry if they do the wrong thing....

    Hmmm, I think I'm starting to understand what has happened to the banking regulations in this country now...

  • Comment number 79.

    It is not working is it?

    That is, politicians painting the bankers as the bad guys when their own behaviour leaves so much to be desired.

    In both cases, it has been a case of 'Heads I win, tails you lose'.

    Bankers and politicans are in full receipt of the benefits of an asymetrical reward system.

    It is not a valid to compare the pay of these two cohorts with say, heart surgeons.

    So priviledged Mr. Osborne needs to apply some rigour to his statements ... I'm sure his colleague Mr. Cameron will remind him of that.

  • Comment number 80.

    Thanks to moderation delays, no comments visible for an hour and a half. When they start to become visible, almost every single post makes the same point about Government hypocrisy and trying to make capital on the back of blaming "greedy" bankers.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time, etc.

    When will the Government (and the Opposition parties) realise that their numbers are up and start putting their houses in order?

  • Comment number 81.

    johnharris66 wrote:
    If we are going to have a class war against the bankers (John Prescott and others) then on which side of the barricades are Premiership footballers? Some earn over 100,000 a week (5 million a year) and, as Scolari (Chelsea's manager) pointed out recently, this is paid however well or badly they play. Or even try, I would add.

    Hope this isn't moderated. it is on topic.


    Footballer's wages are market driven - if clubs can't afford to pay the wages for the top players then they have two choices they either don't recruit the best players or they risk their future on winning trophys and increasing the fan base.

    Scolari is partially correct that players get paid regardless of if they play well or not, however if they play badly then they don't get their bonus pay-offs (players typically get bonuses if their side win, or they score goals in games etc.)

    But what Scolari hasn't pointed out that the fans pay their money regardless of the team's performance - the Chelsea fan's who attended the game on saturday didn't get a refund for watching a draw. So decreasing the players wage for a bad performance would just lead to increased profits for the club.

    The government don't step in to assist if a football club struggles financially, and until they do taxpayers money will not be paying the bonuses of football players.

  • Comment number 82.

    Bonuses and MP expenses should be paid in pigs swill. It is all they deserve.

    I am sure that the government said that the 1st bail out came with "strings attached". As far as I can see the bankers are doing what they like and giving GB/AD the 2-fingered salute.

    This government are clueless, toothless and rotten to the core. The only thing they have going for them is their brass neck.

  • Comment number 83.

    Nick,

    I'll tell you what can be done about it:

    Absolutely Nothing!

    If Brown and Darling and their team of post-grad fops in the treasury had actually any sense, they would have built-in caps on bonuses as part of the first and second bank bailouts.
    Any bank taking the money should have had to sign up to a set of statutory operating practices that prevented or capped bonuses.

    Instead, the government didn't include much in the way of clauses and to be frank, even further its now debatable that anyone in the treasury saw the bank's books, or if they did, understood what they were reading. Because if they did, they'd have seen the huge debt the banks are sat on.

    The whole thing stems from the rabbits-in-a-headlight mismanaged reaction to the banks announcing they were going under.

    Now the bankers can sit back and smile, because they have the money and theres not a thing the government can do other than bluster and whinge.

    No, Brown and Darling have painted themselves into a corner that they can't possibly get out of.

    The bankers are laughing all the way to the er, bank (but not a British one I'll bet: more like a Lichtenstein or Cayman one).

  • Comment number 84.

    Nick wrote:

    "As I suspected, there is a lot of political huff and puff about bonuses but few specific proposals for what should be done about them."

    or more accurately they have absolutely no intention of doing anything about bonuses. They will rant a while then hope we all forget about it.

    I am not saying that when they leave office they will be guaranteed nice lucrative jobs as advisers to the banks - but one has to wonder!

    I think we have a right to seek written assurances that none of the senior politicians (or senior civil servants) will get, or take jobs in the banks for thirty years after leaving office.

  • Comment number 85.

    This is the death throws of the newlabour era.

    A decade of spin, spending and sleaze.

    Another example of newlabour politicians completely out of control:

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23637369-details/Revealed...+the+TfL+boses+who+earn+more+than+Gordon+Brown/article.do

    The british public have been mislead by newlabour inot believing we were building a better Britain; actually they were lining each others' pockets faster than you can say 'spin machine' and it ahs got to stop.

    The inability to simply say no to state owned banks is just another example fo the state of fright inot which newlabour and their apologists have sunk.

    get rid of these greedy bankers.

    Get rid of newlabour aparatchiks#

    Get rid of newlabour

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 86.

    53#

    Very very well said.

    Same trough, different snouts, if I may plagiarise a contributor to Andrew Niel's blog.

    Over to you Nicholas. You're meant to be the Political EDITOR for one of the most important broadcast organisations on the planet, not some two bit gumshoe hack straight out of night school.

    Perfectly valid questions in need of answers.

    Why are you not asking them?

  • Comment number 87.

    "47. At 12:30pm on 09 Feb 2009, shellingout wrote:

    I was made redundant last month."

    Very sorry to hear that. I hope that you get a new job soon.

    I agree with you about this bunch of b......s. though.

  • Comment number 88.

    Hi Nick,

    A clear consensus seems to be forming in the above comments....

    We (your employers via the licence fee) would like you to stop blogging about the fake debate re:city bonuses. The public are wholeheartedly against such payments and our GVN knows it.

    Instead, we would like you to concentrate on asking our MP's to justify their own unjustified bonus scheme - otherwise known as the 2nd home allowance.

    In particular, we want answers from Jaqui Smith. The lunchtime news didn't even mention this story - WHY? The Home Sec. answer's to the Daily Mail don't add up...

    She has been claiming £1600 a month - the market rate for a house share is £800 a month (tops). So whilst she may not have been breaking the letter of the law, she most certainly is brreaking the spirit of it.

    Then there is her claim that her sister's house is her main residency. Leaving aside the obvious points that (a. she has no equity in this home. b. her husband and children live elsewhere) her defence of spending more nights at her sister's home does not add up. Even if in a typical working week we give her 4 nights in London (Mon, Tues, weds, Thurs) and only 3 nights in Reddich (Fri, Sat, Sun) this would not counteract the time spend at her consistuency home during the long parliamentary recesses. So by no definition is her sister's house her main home.

    So start asking questions...

  • Comment number 89.

    Nick,

    surely even Gordon Brown is not stupid enough to say don't give the bankers their bonuses. Does nobody understand how much tax the bankers pay on these bonuses, if taken in cash. Many use the bonuses to reduce their loans from the very bank they work for, through a mortgage.

    Just understand how much the bankers receive not only in direct payments but they also receive subsidized mortgages, at long term fixed rates. They receive car leasing arrangements, they get subsidized rail travel, access to cheap loans to buy shares, their pensions are based on final salary. Even in the late eighties as a senior manager I had access to a GBP30,000 dealing account for my own purposes. My bonus I would put into my pension scheme so as to avoid tax, and then used that when I commuted my pension into a lump sum, therefore avoiding legally taxes on the bonus.

    If you were to pay a banker a proper wage then you are fixed with that wage for as long as that person works for you, so can you imagine what their final salary for pension purposes would be. That is why they get bonuses rather than salary increases. Low wages, high bonus, just like the old days if you worked for a stock broker, they always hooked you on the bonus, not your basic salary.

  • Comment number 90.

    So Gordon is against the bankers getting these Bonuses is he?

    Well given we own RBS what is he doing to prevent them.

    Nothing!!

    Just another cheap headline grabbing stunt, someone really should tell him that we no longer believe a word he or his Government say

  • Comment number 91.

    I can only echo other comments made here about the Home Secretary.

    I heard you on R4 this morning touting the party line that Ms Smith was 'within the rules' and it was a non-issue.

    Whilst technically this may be correct surely you can see how disgusted many of us are at the latest episode of sleaze from this government.

    Not only is Jacqui Smith claiming 20k a year for a home that is clearly her primary residence, she is costing the taxpayer 200k a year for police protection of her sisters home, money that would not be spent if she lived in the grace and favour apartment provided for her.

    In other words she is happy to waste 200k of taxpayers money in order to get an extra 20k for herself.

    Who cares about bankers bonuses when our politicians are so clearly on the fiddle?

  • Comment number 92.

    "48. At 12:31pm on 09 Feb 2009, hughd22 wrote:

    Nick, it would help if some of our politicians owned up to their share of 'contributory negligence' to the banking bonus debacle - I can't recall many making much noise a couple of years ago when the City was generating vast 'profits' for the state as well as for its participants. "
    -------------------------------------------

    Actually I seem to recall one G. Brown taking an awful lot of credit for the "profits" of the city and for the way banks were run and the regulatory frameworks in which they operated.

    Ironically ,now that he actually does have an ownership sized stake in many of the city's banks, he will not take ANY responsibility for the state they are in, nor will he actually take action against the directors who he allowed and facilitated to create this crash!

    Are they all members of Common Purpose?

  • Comment number 93.

    Comments 6 & 19 and any others similar to these just about sum up this disastrous headline grabbing hypocrytical government.

  • Comment number 94.

    Surely, and I'm just spitballing here, any staff bonuses paid out would be spent in the economy, providing a stimulus? Isn't that what the Golem wanted?
    And why should Lloyds TSB miss out on their payments? Until the Golem stuck his oar in and engineered the takeover of HBoS, Lloyds TSB was in good shape. All of Lloyds problems relate to HBoS.
    And all this pseudo anger is just an attempt to disguise the previous supplication of the government to the "masters of the universe in the city".
    Furthermore, it wasn't the bankers per se who got us, or indeed themselves, into this mess, it was governments and regulators. The "housing bubbles" in America and Britain should've been stopped. Interest rates should've been much higher in 2005-2006. But, of course, when you've abolished boom and bust there is no need to worry about a possible bust.

  • Comment number 95.

    I can see why this is a problem for all parties except the Lib Dems who seem to as always take the simplistic approach without worrying about detail.

    At some point and as soon as possible the nationalised banks will need to be denationalised and they can only do this if they can operate commercially.

    If the government start making them lend on different terms than their competitors then they will probably go into an ever decreasing cycle of state handouts. Similarly, they have to recruit and retain top staff on the same basis as their competitors which I'm afraid will mean bonuses at some point.

    This is the root of the problem with any nationalised industry and is why we need to get them back into the private sector as soons as possible before we the taxpayer pours more money into the.

  • Comment number 96.

    And what's gonna happen to the bonus of that banker who paid out wrongly all those billions of tax credits? And the banker who ran a budget deficit when the economy was growing above trend? And the regulator who let UK banks become the weakest-capitalised banks in any large country, incl. the US, by the end of 2006.

    Oops, I think that banker and regulator may be one and the same person and currently has a job referred to as PM (some claim this now should be preceded by the S for ......... you figure it out)

    Nice alliteration: "Brown Bashes Bankers' Bonuses". But Brown and Darling only until recently have asked these bankers for advice, knighted them or appointed them in some business advice council: Wanless, Crosby, Goodwin, Greenspan ....

    Brown in his Mansion House Speech in 2006:

    "I believe that we were right not to go down that road which in the United States led to Sarbannes-Oxley, and we were right to build upon our light touch system through the leadership of Sir Callum McCarthy - fair, proportionate, predictable and increasingly risk based."

    "Let me say I see no case for a European single regulator and will continue to reject such a proposal ...."


  • Comment number 97.

    "67. At 1:23pm on 09 Feb 2009, heskethpark wrote:

    How many Tory MPs have paid directorships of banks in addition to their MP salary? Should they really be paid twice by taxpayers?"
    ------------------------------------------------

    None. There may be MP's on the boards of other banks that have not been bailed out, but I am pretty sure that there are no Tory MP's on the boards of any high ST bank that may have received tax-payer's bailouts.

    I stand to be corrected on that though!

  • Comment number 98.

    Brown had 11 years to take action against obscene bank bonuses and yet to use his own phrase he did nothing! He was quite happy for the city bosses to be earning these bonuses when times were good and he need the tax collected on the bonuses to fund his public sector empire building and to cover up the hole left by the declining manufacturing base! It's just the same as tobacco isn't it? Government says it's not right yet where would they be without the tobacco duty money? Same principle applies here!

  • Comment number 99.

    67/68#

    Completely Irrelevant.

    Cameron and Osborne werent at the wheel when this abberation happened.

    Crash was. For the full 12 year stretch and if we are to believe him, he saw it coming twelve years ago and promptly did naff all apart from plot a coup to have Blair overthrown.

    Try again Chaps. That was utterly feeble, uninformed, ill educated, class ridden twaddle.

  • Comment number 100.

    How about Gordon Brown pays back his salary for introducing the regulatory system which failed to regulate, for overseeing one of the biggest house price bubbles in the western world, for giving the BoE an inflation target which explicitly excluded asset prices, for running up one of the biggest budget deficits in the western world, for overseeing one of the lowest savings ratios in the western world, for overseeing the highest level of personal debt in the western world, for cutting the net worth of the public sector in half since 1997 while at the same time public sector pension liabilities balloon out of control, for overseeing a 10 year decline in British productivity and a drastic fall in the competitiveness of UK businesses?

    When Brown admits his responsibility for what happened then I'll take seriously his insistence that bankers do the same.

 

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