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stop the excess express

I watched Fox News for the first time last night. In a nutshell, along with occasional expert advice from our friend Dan Hannan, they try and make people believe that there’s a socialist conspiracy to take over the world. If only, I thought... And then something struck me maybe there is…
  1. We had a Republican president going all socialist by providing around $1tn to bail out financial institutions so that the economy didn’t go bust.

  2. We had Wall Street falling in love with nationalisation because it's all they had left.

  3. We’ve got the Lord who runs the agency regulating financial services supporting the iconic Tobin Tax pledge of the anti globalisation movement.

  4. And now we’ve got the conservative duo Sarkozy and Merkel making the running to tame excessive pay and bonuses in banks.

I never realised there were on our side! And then I realised they tried to convince us they were when they expalined how the excessive greed of the other “masters of the universe” was somehow contributing to the economy. “Yes we can” they all must have said when they gave themselves bigger and bigger bonuses, higher and higher pay.

So it does feel slightly strange that many people now applaud the Establishment for calling for policies which were deemed too radical when those less in thrawl to the City called for them?

As Jackie Ashley comments, “If everyone is a member of the soggy centrist consensus, serious thinking becomes flabby and the point of parliamentary politics declines…Who can now say that the iron discipline of New Labour MPs during the boom years was such a good thing? If it meant that there was very little probing of the City and banking practice, wasn't that a mistake?”

There was (is?) as much iron discipline by MPs towards the City as there was towards their party whips. From all sides of the house. While we warned that the excessive greed of the fat cats probably affects social cohesion more than a teenager spraying graffiti on your wall, the government are still giving out ASBOs to kids and letting bankers at government-controlled banks give themselves bonuses.

But let's move beyond the "we told you so" (we did…he did even earlier) and look at how we can get out of this mess.

There are many proposals around proposing maximum wage ratios or bonus taxation. Of course these all need to be considered and the thread that brings these all together is the urgent need to review excessive pay across the board.

Now that doesn't sound too radical does it? Well…no actually, as 65% of the public polled here agree we need a High Pay Commission that would do exactly that. OK, so surely all those people must have been socialists? Well…no, as 66% of Labour voters are up for it, but so are 63% of Tories and 75% of Lib Dems.

So are we going to wait for other “masters of the universe” to tell us what to think or are we going to start rocking the boat for the right reasons?


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