Journal Column – 1st February

The 4th quarter UK GDP figures were truly awful. It seems certain that the figures for the first three months of 2012 will confirm that the UK economy is suffering a double dip recession.

It is difficult to comprehend that it was only three years ago when much of the irresponsible British banking sector was bailed out by the taxpayer. Almost as difficult to understand, despite a change in government and the promise of change, is the bonus culture of the economic elite continues to plague the sector.

For the more cynical reader, it won’t be a surprise to see a politician renege on a promise. David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition at the time of the financial crash, overnight dropped his capitalist beliefs, donned a metaphorical Robin Hood costume and demanded fairness for the hard working taxpayers who had just bailed out the banks.

He continued his charade into the general election promising “no rewards for failure”. Now Prime Minister, David Cameron has well and truly revealed the character behind the mask. An un calculated cap on benefits; 700,000 job cuts in the public sector and permanent pay freezes; the slashing of public sector pensions; bankers starving businesses of credit; regional pay proposals and the failure to use its shareholder votes to stop massive bonuses in taxpayer-funded banks; all demonstrate the Conservative party’s ease with making our most vulnerable people pay for the mistakes of the super-rich.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, a bailed-out bank, over 80 per cent owned by the taxpayer, which offered its Chief Executive with almost a million pound bonus on top of his 1.2million basic annual salary, is the very same bank which just two weeks pulled the rug from underneath Peacocks – A Welsh-based business employing an estimated 10,000 people.

The RBS pay and remuneration package was of course negotiated by the last Labour UK Government. It is convenient that neither Ed Miliband nor Ed Balls have mentioned the hundreds of RBS investment bankers which received over a million pound bonus, post bail-out, during the Labour government’s time in office. The posturing of the ‘we don’t care if you get filthy rich party’ is about as credible as Gordon Brown’s boasts that he had ended boom and bust.

Once again we see that successive London governments, regardless of political hue, will always favour the needs of their backers in the financial square mile. Its ordinary working people as always who have to accept the pain.

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