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High Pay campaign launches today

12:15 am - August 17th 2009

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100 leading progressive figures from across the centre-left, civil society and from all corners of the UK, have today called on the government to establish a High Pay Commission.

The statement co-ordinated by the influential political pressure-group Compass has support from Brendan Barber (General Secretary, TUC), Jon Cruddas (Labour MP for Dagenham) and Vince Cable (Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor).

They have joined 97 others who are today calling on the Government to establish a High Pay Commission to review top pay and look at measures to ensure excessive pay can’t damage the economy again.

Vince Cable MP Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor said:

I support the Compass campaign. There is no justification for massive pay and bonus awards in financial institutions, the most important of which are guaranteed or owned or have been rescued by the tax payer. Transparency and tax are important but a High Pay Commission looking at both equity and economic aspects is a welcome suggestion too.

Jon Cruddas MP said:

Our response to an era-defining economic crisis often appears timid, informed by the strange notion that we will soon return to normal. It will not and we have to adapt to radically different conditions. The Labour Party needs to reaffirm itself as the Party of the many, not the few. It can start by supporting this initiative for a High Pay Commission.

The campaign statement reads
The crisis we find ourselves in is one significantly caused by greed. The salaries of those at the top raced away while the median wage stagnated. Inequality grew, and an economic crisis ensued. The unjust rewards of a few hundred ‘masters of the universe’ exacerbated the risks we were all exposed to many times over. Banking and executive remuneration packages have reached excessive levels. We believe now is the time for government to take decisive action.

The facts speak loud and clear: an employee working a 40 hour week earning the minimum wage would have to work for around 226 years to receive the same remuneration as a FTSE 100 CEO does in just one year.

Remuneration and performance pay cycles are too short; rewards for failure are too great, to the detriment of the long term future of these companies and the wider economy. The government must now take decisive action on excessive pay at the top when it has had such a damaging and corrosive effect on the real economy and wider society.

In 1997 a ‘Low Pay Commission’ was set up to advise on the implementation of the Minimum Wage – a policy which has ensured greater fairness and economic stability. We need a ‘High Pay Commission’ to launch a wide-ranging review of pay at the top. It should consider proposals to restrict excessive remuneration such as maximum wage ratios and bonus taxation to provide the just society and sustainable economy we all want.

Furthermore, we also need the government to take the moral lead by setting reasonable pay structures within our public bodies, for public procurement contracts and last but not least – within our publicly owned banks.

We therefore urge the government to create a High Pay Commission to come up with concrete solutions and instigate the real change that will ensure a more sustainable, equal and secure economic future for all.

Adrian Sinfield – Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh
Alan Simpson, Labour MP
Alex Smith, Editor of Labourlist
Andrew Mackinlay, Labour MP
Andrew Simms, Policy Director, The New Economics Foundation
Andrew Stunell, Liberal Democrat MP
Ann Black
Anneliese Dodds, Labour PPC for Reading East
Bill Etherington, Labour MP
Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU
Brendan Barber, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
Chris Mclaughlin, Editor of Tribune
Chuka Umunna, Labour PPC for Streatham
Clifford Singer, The Other Taxpayer’s Alliance
Cllr Dr Neeraj Patil MBBS,FRCS, Labour PPC for Surrey Heath
Cllr Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member, Green Party
Colin Burgon, Labour MP
Dai Davies, Independent MP
Dave Anderson, Labour MP
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, Unison
David Byrne, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Durham
David Drew, Labour MP
David Heyes, Labour MP
David Taylor, Labour MP
Davina Cooper, Professor of Law & Political Theory, Kent Law School, University of Kent
Doug Naysmith, Labour MP
Dr Brian Iddon, Labour MP
Dr Caroline Lucas MEP, Leader of the Green Party
Dr David Alderson, Senior Lecturer, English and American Studies
Dr Eryl Price-Davies, Principal Lecturer, Thames Valley University
Dr Ian Greer, Leeds University
Dr Jo Littler, Senior Lecturer, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Arts, Middlesex University
Dr Jon Cruddas MP
Dr Vince Cable MP, Deputy Leader & Shadow Chancellor for the Liberal Democrats
Duncan Green, Head of research, Oxfam
Duncan Weldon, Economist
Frank Cook, Labour MP
Frank Field, Labour MP
Gavin Hayes, General Secretary, Compass
George Irvin, University of London, SOAS
Gordon Prentice, Labour MP
Guy Palmer, The Poverty website
Helena Kennedy QC, Member of the House of Lords
Hilary Wainwright, Editor of Red Pepper Magazine
Howard Reed, Director, Landman Economics
Ian Stewart, Labour MP
Jane Wills, Queen Mary, University of London
Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of NUJ
Jim Dobbin, Labour MP
Jim Sheridan, Labour MP
Johann Hari, The Independent
John Austin, Labour MP
John Battle, Labour MP
John Cummings, Labour MP
John Harris, Guardian
John Leech, Liberal Democrat MP
Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media and Journalism, Brunel University
Kelvin Hopkins, Labour MP
Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor, Daily Mirror
Lilian Greenwood, Labour PPC for Nottingham South
Linda Riordan, Labour MP
Lindsay Mackie, Writer
Lynne Jones, Labour MP
Margaret Moran, Labour MP
Mark Donne, Director of the Fair Pay Network
Mick Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP
Neal Lawson, Chair, Compass
Neil Gerrard, Labour MP
Nick Isles
Nicky Gavron, London Assembly Member, Labour Party
Noel Hatch, Chair, Compass Youth
Oona King, Campaigner
Paddy Tipping, Labour MP
Paul Flynn, Labour MP
Paul Holmes, Liberal Democrat MP
Paul Smith, Labour PPC Bristol
Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner
Polly Toynbee, the Guardian
Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting, University of Essex
Priscilla Alderson, Professor of Childhood Studies, University of London
Professor Christine Cooper, University of Strathclyde
Professor Danny Dorling, University of Sheffield.
Professor Gregor Gall, Professor of Industrial Relations, University of Hertfordshire
Professor Martin Parker, University of Leicester School of Management
Professor Robert Hampson FEA, FRSA, Royal Holloway, University of London
Professor Ruth Lister CBE, FBA, Professor of Social Policy, Loughborough University
Professor Simon Lilley, University of Leicester School of Management
Richard Murphy, Tax Research LLP
Richard Scorer, Labour PPC for Hazel Grove
Richard Wilkinson, Director of the Equality Trust
Roger Levett
Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP
Sally Hunt, General Secretary of UCU
Sam Gurney, Labour PPC, Labour PPC for Kensington
Sam Tarry, Chair of Young Labour
Steve Davies, Senior Research Fellow, Cardiff University
Sunny Hundal, Editor of Liberal Conspiracy
Tom Copley, Chair, London Young Labour
Tom Flynn, Labour PPC for Southend West
Will Straw, Editor of Left Foot Forward

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Reader comments

The difficulty with the proposal is that it presumes that ALL high salaries are based on risky behaviour and are undeserved.

Should someone who developed an industrial process that saved hundreds of millions of pounds per year not be entitled to a decent percentage of that saving?

Should companies that can generate high profits sustainably and reliably not be wise to reward the staff who enable that to happen?

By all means rewrite the rules on salaries that cause system wide risks, but don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater – and in the process drive innovation overseas.

2. Luis Enrique

Hooray! it’s the “Socialists For Higher Profits” campaign.

“The salaries of those at the top raced away while the median wage stagnated.”

That’s interesting. According to ONS median wages rose between 3 and 5% every year for the past decade.


Assuming a 4% average, that makes them 48% higher than they were a decade ago.

As opposed to a 23% rise in prices over that time.

Actually, about that 2% per annum rise in real incomes that capitalism has been providing for the past couple of centuries. There or thereabouts anyway.

This is clearly a new meaning of the word “stagnation” to the one my dictionary contains.

Margaret Moran!

She has the gall to sign this?

Anyway I thought she was too ill to do her job as an MP?

5. Roger Mortimer-Smith

Honestly. Even if you accept the tabloid headline “Irresponsible bankers caused financial crisis”, it is nothing to do with how much they are paid. This is pure envy masquerading as principle.

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    : High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj

  2. James Graham

    RT: @libcon: High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj

  3. Social Liberal Forum

    RT: @libcon: High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj

  4. reenymal

    Liberal Conspiracy » High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/qQWaK

  5. Liberal Conspiracy

    : High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj

  6. Social Liberal Forum » A compelling case for a high pay commission? [Vince Cable]:

    […] UPDATE: Vince, along with fellow Lib Dem MPs Andrew Stunell, John Leech and Paul Holmes, have signed up to Compass’ campaign for a High Pay Commission (hat tip: Liberal Conspiracy) […]

  7. James Graham

    RT: @libcon: High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj

  8. Social Liberal Forum

    RT: @libcon: High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj

  9. reenymal

    Liberal Conspiracy » High Pay campaign launches today http://bit.ly/qQWaK

  10. sunny hundal

    High Pay commission campaign launches today http://bit.ly/MDanj
    (i’m a signatory)

  11. In support of the High Pay Campaign « Raincoat Optimism

    […] Compass high pay campaign begins today, and the beginning of their opening statement […]

  12. Back from the brink: Obama retreats on controversial U.S. healthcare plan | Gadget Look

    […] support the Compass campaign. There is no justification for massive pay and bRead more at http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/08/17/high-pay-campaign-launches-today/ Tags: Obama, richard hatch « “Grey’s Anatomy” Star, Rebecca Gayheart, Former […]

  13. Liberal Conspiracy » Why I support a high pay commission

    […] written a short article for the New Statesman about why the idea for a High Pay Commission, mooted by Compass this week, isn’t a bad idea. I’m expanding on some of the arguments […]

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