Curbing bank bonuses: I've found the victims
An end to greed and recklessness!" "An end to automatic bank bonuses!"
You know who said that. And you know why. Even if you keep your cynicism locked away, it's not hard to find reasons for the Chancellor to tell the City to stop paying those huge Christmas bonuses.
And who will feel sorry for them? Who will ride to their rescue? Champagne salesmen maybe? Party organisers in Surrey? Well, how about a west country carpenter?
A few months back I went to an auction. Not Sotheby's, nothing fancy - it was a bankruptcy auction on an industrial estate in Bristol. They were selling huge saws and belt sanders the size of your garage. The lots were all that was left of Crabtree Kitchens, a lovely family firm that would make any west country heart beat with pride.
Richard Morley, the director, is a lovely man with a twinkling eye and a great eye for craftsmanship. The staff were loyal, regular Bristolians. The City seemed a world away. But Crabtree Kitchens was sunk by the financial storm that hit London a year ago.
You see, those evil bankers have to spend their evil bonuses somewhere. And the classic treat is a new car and a new kitchen. No bonus, no new kitchen. Orders plunged.
You can read more about how this hit Crabtree, and how two of the staff set up a new company, here.
Surely if we've learnt anything from this global recession, it is that everything is connected. Alistair Darling's "bonus crackdown" will get easy cheers today, for sure. But somewhere in the "real world", ordinary companies with ordinary employees will pay the price.
I just spoke to Zoe Wilkins, the designer at Crabtree Kitchens who has set up a new kitchen company with the former master joiner. The new firm is busy, they've already completed four kitchens and have quotes on another five. So who's buying? Mostly, it seems, people who've decided not to move house, but to extend the kitchen. This firm seems intent on being a weathervane for our times, doesn't it?