First published at http://www.pluto-online.com/?p=2481
So, Gordon Brown came up North for a painfully stage-managed forum with a choice group of people, where questions were vetted and there was no room for debate.
And what did we take away from it?
A token gesture, from, to quote the questionable Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, “the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government”.
When pressed on the issue of ‘frontloading’ by Parviz Shasva, owner of Rooms Nightclub, the PM suggested, “we could ask for an agreement among the retail trade and talk to Tesco and so on but then a number of shops may keep outside of that.”
Forgive me, Gordon, I’m a bit confused here. Aren’t you the most powerful person in the country? The leader of the country? And then clearly the best placed person to tell companies to change their practices if it is in the best interests of the people who you represent?
From Margaret Thatcher to date, power has become increasingly centralized in the hands of one person, the prime minister. And yet, his answers are feeble. He sounds powerless.
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. The Guardian reported last week (22nd October) that Lord Myners, the City Minister “insisted… that the government could not use its stakes in the bailed out banks, RBS and Lloyds Banking Group… to stop bonus payouts.”
£1.3trillion of taxpayers money has been pumped in to banks to keep the sector a float, and yet, it appears that our elected representatives cannot stop a practice that has rightly infuriated the public.
Lord Myners urged the banking sector to address the bonus issue itself in a bid to not “bash the bankers”. Ask them nicely not to give themselves lots of money?
One can’t help but compare this with MP’s ability, or not, to self-regulate. Richard Garside, a local estate agent asked of Jacqui Smith’s regretful plea in the House of Commons following her home ‘flipping’ that gained her more than £100,000, “can any employee caught stealing from his employer expect that an apology will suffice?” For the average employee, the answer is no.
So, do you get a bonus if you look after people as a nurse, and reach all the targets? Do you get a little extra if you get all the kids you teach through all the ludicrous testing forced upon you by central government as a teacher? No, you don’t. You are just doing your job.
So why then, when these people are just doing their job, and even when they aren’t, are they allowed to take home thousands of pounds in their already unfairly large pay packets?
Are some people above recrimination?
Lord Myners is addressing high street banks that have taken government money. Not even the investement banks that got us into this trouble in the first place.
The Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has come out with some headline catching rhetoric, but with little believable policy. He actually plans to cut cash bonuses while still giving rewards in shares. One can only look on in disbelief.
Maybe Mr Brown would have felt better with an easy question at the forum, like “what is your favourite biscuit”, a question posed to him at an audience with mumsnet. An easy question, that took him two days to answer.
Incidentally, it’s a choc-chip.