Bonus Bust Up (Again!)
I watched today, 15/01/2014, the Prime Minister’s Question Time in parliament, which was interesting for once. Conservatives were raucous and rowdy and stifling the debates with their behaviour that would not look out of place in a primary school playground. Shameful way to act in our ‘house’ of power that we should be able to see the best and the brightest (yes writing that phrase stuck in my throat somewhat) debating issues that affect us all, and not a slanging match of who can shout loudest and who can be the rudest. The Speaker of the House was ineffective in controlling these Conservative blue bully boys and girls who were out only to jeer and stifle the issues being raise – shameful, really quite shameful. On the opposing side Labour were passive and calm as they had pledged to be, to calm politics down and allow debate to occur in the most important debating hall in the UK. But they came across as meek and as ineffective as the Speaker of the House was, and the tyrannical Tories lambasted the Labour benches. Labour were hoping that they would be seen as somehow more business-like, more statesman-like but they didn’t, they just appeared to be some innocent Bambi pounced upon by ruthless, slavering wolves.
It would be wonderful if all sides adopted this approach as we would actually be able to see debates happening and the arguments that fine tune our laws, but genuinely I can’t see this happening. Especially with the apparently improving economy (not that anyone I know has noticed), the Conservatives can taste the blood of Labour, who seems to have faltered under this improved economic situation for the Coalition. Yes you can almost see the Labour rabbits caught in the lights of their hunters, with the shotguns levelled squarely at them, as the Tory heartlands breathe a sigh of economic relief, they just have to fire volley after volley and the rabbits fall still and silent. I do think that the main attack of Labour against the Coalition being that of a failing economic growth was a risky one, because as soon as the figures started to improve their flagship was sunk, and now they struggle to get their new messages across, drowned out by the smug Coalition screaming the equivalent of “I TOLD YOU SO!” The worst culprit of all was, of course, Cameron who was carrying a pump action shot gun and just kept shooting down the calm little Ed, who was totally decimated by the assault of the Prime Minister, but, I have said before and will keep saying it, they chose the wrong brother to lead the Labour Party.
Amongst all the tormenting, flood of jeers, wave after wave of the attacking Tories taunts, you would have been forgiven if you had missed the questions that Ed was asking of the PM. As surely as Christmas comes round every year the debate about Bankers and their bonus’ unfolded, yes the same annual debate since 2008, as we head towards the end of the financial year, where profits and losses are announced. Labour was determined to make this the same old ground to fight on, trying to draw the Tories into this debate but they were not playing ball, they just battered Ed senseless. Don’t get me wrong, I think the calmness about debating would be a good thing but now Labour have lost out on the economy as their main attack they are struggling to find new battlegrounds, whether in a calm debating chamber, or not as it is currently. However, this bankers’ bonus issue is one close to most people’s hearts after the appalling excesses of the early years of 2000 (under Labour might I add).
Unfortunately for Labour bonuses in the City of London’s financial Square Mile have actually come down by 85%, as the figures in the chart show. These figures were gathered by the Centre for Economic & Business Research and clearly demonstrate that the total estimated bonuses paid to the London financial sector, under Labour, peaked during in 2008 (the year of the crash) at a breath-taking £11.5 billion – Yep BILLIONS! However, it has come down year on year since then and is now estimated at £1.5 billion, still an obscene amount but it has shrunk under the Tories. However, little Ed is right that the Tories are not in a true sense capping bonuses paid to the state owned RBS, and most will feel paying bonus by stealth is still a bonus.
Most of the public will feel that since we own this bank as tax payers, and since the bank isn’t doing too well, to pay £100,000’s in bonuses is just not right. Now this is where the Tories will turn round and say they have capped the bonuses to £2000 cash, which is right, what they aren’t saying is that RBS employees can get limitless bonuses in the form of shares, pension contributions/arrangements, etc. This is what Labour are try to cap, although one would have thought they had over a decade in power to cap these immoral earnings if they wanted. I just can’t get out of my mind that during the unregulated and uncontrolled boom under Labour they were supporting bonuses being paid worth tens of millions of pounds to individuals but now they have a problem with bonuses. However, they are now supporting a European initiative to bring in an EU law that restricts bonuses in any form to 100% or salary, which is a start. Predictably the Tories have vetoed such plans and support their richer supporters getting richer through bonuses and any other means, yet poverty is at an all-time high, homelessness is increasing and more people are going hungry as the real booming sector of society is unfortunately food banks. What a legacy this will be on the tombstone of the Coalition, hopefully.
To achieve this demise other Parties have to step up to the mark and fight on issues that will win them support, waffling out policies about bonuses, which have decreased, is just nonsense. Perhaps Labour should be fighting on issues that people really do care about in 2014:
- Cost of living rising & wages stagnant;
- Raising the minimum wage to £7.50;
- Reversing the cuts to councils to fund social care and the minimum wage increase;
- Reversing the cuts to health and NHS;
- Reversing the brutal decision to cut housing benefits to the under 25’s, (see blog: https://disabilityinbusiness.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/once-proud-nation/) which will lead directly to increased homelessness amongst such young people;
- Nationalising the water & power industries to make the annual 26,000 deaths a year contributed to the cold a thing of the past (if it was 26,000 Tory donors they would prevent it in a matter of days);
- Reducing the enormous salaries of publically funded officials, for example the Chief Executive of Motability who has a salary of £850,000 plus bonuses (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2539599/Disability-boss-850-000-year-taxpayer-MPs-campaigners-attack-lavish-pay-call-cuts.html);
This last point really annoyed me, as the whole point of Motability (http://www.motability.co.uk/) is to support disabled people with significant barriers to accessing the community the facilities to overcome these barriers, and they go and spend £850,000 plus on the Chief Executive – totally and utterly shameful of the Coalition to allow such salaries. I bet if we dug a little deeper we would find that this is not unusual amongst public officials. Before I end this blog I would like to also say that you don’t hear any of the main Parties complaining about their own pay rise of 11% when most Nurses haven’t had a pay rise for years. You don’t hear these MP’s scream out in the debating chamber of Parliament their full throated demands not to accept such a pay rise or to hand the money back. No they are pretty silent on these sorts of issues but this won’t be a surprise to any of us that have to work for a living.
Yours most sincerely
Smiling Cat Ventures (www.smilingcatventures.org)
Innovative Minds @ Work (www.innovativemindsatwork.org)
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