Bonuses - Politicians taste blood


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The bankers of Royal Bank of Scotland may come to regret their boss's admission that he waived his bonus rather than face a parliamentary vote on it. What's more they might not be the only ones.

Politicians led by Ed Miliband have tasted bankers' blood - a taste they may get used to.

What the case of Stephen Hester showed is that the public's anger with the banks can't be assuaged by cutting one bonus to less than a symbolic £1m or by insisting that the man running RBS is simply being rewarded for doing what he was hired to do or saying that his pay is "a matter for the board" or hoping that he won't take the money he's offered.

David Cameron has tried each of those tacks in recent days and has been left looking pretty lame and pretty isolated.

Ed Miliband has had his first victory since his stand against Rupert Murdoch on hacking and, after a dreadful start to the year, is unlikely to let go now.

Nick Clegg wants to define his role in the Coalition as "fairer than thou" and so won't be far behind. Even Boris Johnson, the man who prided himself on standing up for the City of London, couldn't bring himself to defend Hester's bonus in this mayoral election year.

The question now is why stop at this bonus? What about Hester's long term incentive payments? Or his pay? Or the bonuses and pay of all those in RBS's investment arm? Why shouldn't Labour threaten to engineer votes on them?

Some may see this as the beginning of a process which brings global capitalism under the control of democratic politicians.

It will take a very brave politician indeed to argue that the City of London will not survive for long if bankers' pay appears to be being set by opinion poll.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    30th January 2012 - 17:54

    Your comment has been referred for further consideration."

    38 hours of consideration. I took a screedump of the post anyway Beeb. I had a feeling it might get stopped, under the "we don't like when you criticise the Beeb" rule.

    I pay my license.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    SP @ 327

    Rather 'Strictly Prickly' today, aren't we? Was just having a laugh with you, is all. Honestly! But okay, fair enough, I defer to your knowledge on matters chocolate-orange. It beats mine hands down.

    DH @ 326

    Yes, on Mr Hester, I like that it triggered debate on the issue (of silly City bonuses) but he probably deserved his more than many others. Ah well, I'm sure he'll survive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    323 sagamix
    "No point wriggling, Strictly, you're bang to rights on this one.

    You were asking me to comment on Ed's policy for chocolate oranges when he doesn't have one ...

    Trying to trick me, you were, and it damn nearly worked too."

    I hardly think so. You just made some comments without understanding what you we talking about. No trickery required, just your usual level of posting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    "Thank heavens I got sent that 'DHWilko' research note."

    LOL! Very Stephen Fry way of putting it. It was just a websearch. More people should try it. Ignoring the Comics(The Sun, Daily Mail, The Telegraph) obviously. Difficult to find reliable sources of what actually was going on with this bonus though. Lab and Con are both using legalese to interpret the contract in different ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.


    i think you'll find there is mate, but its not payable until the end of his four year contract and even if it does get paid its totally in shares. I remember the salient points of it being brought up on PM on Radio 4 when Hester was hired and Liam Byrne being interviewed to justify it. Curiously, Liam Byrne has been rather quiet over the last few days, has he not? Yes, publish it!


Comments 5 of 329



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