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Public: we want more banker bashing!


8:35 am - February 6th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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We’re indulging in too much banker bashing, wailed the Times and Financial Times last week.

Their well paid commentators should pay a bit more attention to public opinion. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times yesterday found the public had lots of appetite for more banker bashing.

» Asked if it was right to strip Fred Goodwin of his knighthood – 67% of people said it was right, while only 18% said it was the wrong decision.

» And what about others? Should other senior executives of banks that needed to be bailed out also be stripped of honours?

YES, said the public, enthusiastically. 63% agreed while only 19% disagreed (that includes 61% of Tory voters too).

» Was the government right to pressure Hester into not accepting his bonus? (Actually that was Labour, not the govt…) – 72% said yes. Only 20% disagreed.

» Would all this damage the business environment in Britain, asked YouGov. Only 25% said it would damage UK’s business environment while 56% said it wouldn’t (incl a majority of Tories).

Neither was the public convinced it would discourage foreign companies from coming here.

So much for the likes of Toby Young and other Tories being in touch with public opinion on this issue.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


“So much for the likes of Toby Young and other Tories being in touch with public opinion on this issue.”

Wasn’t the most high profile politician opining that banker bashing was populist and in danger of being self-defeating one Alistair Darling ?

2. Chaise Guevara

Meh. Appeal to majority. We probably ARE indulging in too much banker-bashing, or at the very least the bashing isn’t targeted enough: bankers have joined politicians, lawyers and parking attendents in the “All X are bastards” line uttered by idiots pretending to be wise.

They may be out of touch with the public, but that does not mean they are incorrect.
The damage to business does not lie in the fact that we’ve upset bankers, but in the credibility of Britain as a stable business environment and a place to do business.
It is one thing to change the regulations and policies – to discuss with business the terms of reference by which business is done in Britain (as Ed Miliband is seeking to do). It is another thing altogether to lash out post hoc and retrospectively at individuals with whom the public has become disillusioned. It is not up for argument whether this discourages business … it just does.
I have blogged about this at interminable length at http://bit.ly/wTNgXm

The 70% figure who claim that banker bashing hasn’t gone far enough is remarkably similar to the 70% who support the government’s benefit cap or want it reduced further.

You don’t seem so keen to go with popular opinion on that front, Sunny.

My take (and one which anecdotally seems quite mainstream) is that no one particularly likes vilifying individuals (Hester seems to have been particularly unlucky in this respect) but that everyone (Tories included) think that bankers are hugely overpaid relative to their economic contribution and relative to other professional jobs. And that “rewards for failure” seem greater than in other industries.

It isn’t so much bankers that need to be bashed but bankers’ salaries.

Neither was the public convinced it would discourage foreign companies from coming here.

So much for the likes of Toby Young and other Tories being in touch with public opinion on this issue.

And Lord Digby Jones, going by the buffoon’s appearance on Question Time last week. When is someone going to take Jones to task for his blithering stupidity on the eocnomy and what businesses need?

When is someone going to take Jones to task for his blithering stupidity on the eocnomy and what businesses need?

Enough to make you wonder why Gordon made him a minister, isn’t it?

@BenM

“And Lord Digby Jones, going by the buffoon’s appearance on Question Time last week. When is someone going to take Jones to task for his blithering stupidity on the eocnomy and what businesses need?”

You are going to have to come up with some evidence that someone like Digby Jones doesn’t know what British business needs and wants. His CV suggests he should know exactly what British business needs.

Now you may not agree with their demands…….

He serves as Chairman of the British Airways International Advisory Board[1] and is Senior Advisor to HSBC, a Corporate Ambassador for Jaguar Cars, a Corporate Advisor to JCB, Advisor to Harvey Nash Group plc, Babcock International Group plc[1] and Advisor to Grove Industries Limited and Barberry Properties plc.[1] He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Monitise Group plc and Chairman of Neutrino Concepts Ltd.

The problem with basing policies on polling is that is quite likely polls would demonstrate support for the following:

We want more benefits bashing
We want more foriegner bashing
We want lower taxes
We want more money for public services (and are too stupid to see the contradiction with the above)

9. Chaise Guevara

@ 8

Word.

OK, lets see if I can get my head round this.

The directors of a private business make a number of errors of judgement causing their company to fail. For some reason, the government takes the money it has appropriated from taxpayers and bails it out.

The government now owns a majority of this failed business but it knows it has tried to run businesses like this in the past and has realised it is not very good at it. So it decides to stay at arms length instead, to recruit the best man for the job and get him to run it for them, as if it were still a real business.

They negotiate a contract with this man and, sensibly, a large portion of his package is based on performance against an agreed set of parameters.

A couple of years later, when the man is due to be paid according to this contract, the taxpayers now seem angry that their money has been so shamefully squandered and are jealous of the large sum of money the man is due to receive.

Whipped up by a knowing media the public now appear to be beginning to blame the government for the mess. As this is damaging for them, the politicians decide to deflect the blame onto the man they have recruited and bully him until he refuses to accept the payment contractually due to him.

Question.

Who has acted shamefully in this matter?

@pagar

A very good post.

One of the odd things about the recent banker-bashing is why it is so vociferous now and not two years ago.

Sir Fred still had his knighthood two years ago and RBS bankers were getting much bigger bonuses two years ago (and only paying 40% tax on them, not 50% as today) than they will get this year.

I suspect part of the reason is that there is a huge gap between the public who think the bankers have got off scot-free and the bankers who don’t believe this is the case. And part of the fault for this is that there isn’t much reporting of what has been forced on the bankers over the last two years.

City jobs have been lost in their tens of thousands. Salaries are off. Bonuses are down 70% from 2007 levels. Bonuses are all paid in restricted shares and subject to clawback. And there are new regulations on everything from capital adequacy to trading in OTC derivatives.

The idea that it is “business as usual” for the bankers is widely wide of the mark.

Though that isn’t to claim that bankers as a whole aren’t still overpaid. But I don’t think Hester is one of them. Not when you get £1m for reading the news or running a newspaper.

10. Pagar

The government now owns a majority of this failed business but it knows it has tried to run businesses like this in the past

Hahaha!

When was this decided?!!

How much more successful was it in private sector hands?!!!!!

Bank of England anyone?

Do rightwingers ever have any clue what they’re talking about?

I tend to agree with Shinsei67, it is pointless targetting individuals,it just reinforces the view that it is down to certain persons that the system failed.
Capitalism is about greed and self-interest and this is exactly what the bankers were doing, yes it was stupid to give someone a knighthood for it but it’s equally stupid taking it away. Deckchairs and the Titanic spring to mind.

@BenM

Government-run financial institutions screwed up just as badly as private sector ones during the financial crisis. Everything from the US Fannie Mae and Freddie Macs to the German landesbanks all crashed.

The UK government has a long record of running commercial businesses poorly – BT, British Airways, British Leyland, British Steel, Thomas Cook etc etc.

All synonymous with poor customer service, poor labour relations, unimaginative management, lack of innovation, poor levels of investment in capex or training, and poor profitability.

15. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Banker bashing may well be an amusing pastime for the disposessed but it really doesnt do anything for the structural failures of the banking system which is a worldwide problem. Big banks equal big payouts. Sleazy big banks equals bigger payouts.

14 Shinsei

All synonymous with poor customer service, poor labour relations, unimaginative management, lack of innovation, poor levels of investment in capex or training, and poor profitability.

Those traits are synonymous with a lot of private sector orgs too.

@BenM

“Those traits are synonymous with a lot of private sector orgs too.”

Indeed, but the taxpayer doesn’t have to subsidise loss-making private sector businesses.

“but the taxpayer doesn’t have to subsidise loss-making private sector businesses.”

How much subsidy have the rail companies had since privitisation?

@planeshift:

“How much subsidy have the rail companies had since privatisation?”

The rail companies clearly aren’t private sector businesses. Hence the subsidies and say the government has in their management’s bonuses or lack of them.

@19: “The rail companies clearly aren’t private sector businesses. Hence the subsidies and say the government has in their management’s bonuses or lack of them.”

Nicholas Ridley, whom Mrs T achnowledged as her mentor on privatisation, came to oppose privatisation of the railways when he was appointed transport minister after the 1983 election and later.

He reckoned that the railways would always need public subsidy for social reasons and believed that could be more effectively managed and controlled within the public sector. It was long predicted that breaking up the railways into separate operating companies would increase the need for public subsidies because separate ownership would hugely reduce the scope for cross-subsidisation from the mostly profitable operations – such as inter-city services – to the loss-making local and commuter services. For all that, John Major’s government pressed ahead with privatisation of the railways regardless. The railways were privatised in the Railways Act 1993, the year that Ridley died.

@Bob B

Don’t disagree with you for a moment. Rail privatisation was always going to be a disaster.

But by 2002 it was back in public ownership through Network Rail.

Hence my comment that it isn’t a private sector business.

“The rail companies clearly aren’t private sector businesses”

Why? Because they operate within strict regulation and operate monopoly contracts awarded to them by government.

If this is the reason you don’t consider them private companies then neither are any privatised utilities, healthcare companies formed to take over NHS operations, or any businesses where public sector contracts form a large part of turnover.

So why do conservatives insist on saying privitisation is a success when they don’t regard the companies operating in the new markets as truly private sector? Surely they should term ‘privatisation’ differently?

@21: “But by 2002 it was back in public ownership through Network Rail.”

Only Network Rail, which manages and maintains the rail infrastructure, is back in public ownership. The operating companies for the rail services remain in the private sector but the fares they can charge are subject to the rail regulator

The point is being missed.

It’s not that “banker bashing” is a good thing because the public is in favour of it.

But, if you support policies that increase banking regulation and redistribute the tax burden from the poor to the very wealthy then the fact that the public has little sympathy for bankers is very definitely good news.

On the benefits cap the left is swimming against the tide, and it should be, but on bankers it is very much with the tide.

@OP, Sunny: “Asked if it was right to strip Fred Goodwin of his knighthood – 67% of people said it was right, while only 18% said it was the wrong decision.”

The thing about stripping Fred Goodwin of his knighthood is that once you’ve done it, you have eliminated one of the opportunities for banker bashing. In fact having Fred sitting their with his knighthood was beneficial because it made people think whether it is right to give honours to business people for being business people. Give business people honours for charitable work but don’t award them badges for doing their day jobs.

One of the conventions of local government is that you don’t name roads and buildings after local dignitaries until they have been dead for a while. Leave it a bit for reflection and revelation, let the dodgy stuff emerge from the woodwork. That way councillors do not unwittingly name a street the equivalent of Pervert Avenue or Crook Close.

You can’t apply the same rule to personal awards that are only meaningful if given during the beneficiaries life. But you can avoid embarrassment by awarding them for a merit (sporting achievement, scientific discovery, charitable work) that cannot easily be taken away.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Rep in the Regions

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  2. Clare O'Neill

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  3. TheSwarm.us

    #UK : Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/jaAIfuxC

  4. Keiran Macintosh

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  5. #pressreform

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  6. Gods & Monsters

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  7. Teflon Dave

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  8. Drew

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  9. Joanne Dixon-Jackson

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  10. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/C5hfAirO

  11. LJH

    YouGov poll shows the general public (including most Tory voters) in favour of MORE "banker bashing" http://t.co/VY8DB5ys

  12. Nigel Watson

    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PU6hnsHJ via @libcon

  13. Owen Blacker

    RT @sunny_hundal Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/zs0I7BtH

  14. BevR

    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/X3wnFawz via @libcon #wrb #spartacusreport

  15. Kit Marsden

    which still doesn't necessarily make it right. RT @sunny_hundal … there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/7tQoUmLa

  16. Mike Smart

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  17. PhillOccupationMedia

    #UK : Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/jaAIfuxC

  18. Edward Clarke

    RT @sunny_hundal Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/zs0I7BtH

  19. George Roberts

    More banker bashing please says YouGov poll via @sunnyhundal http://t.co/OnxWtp3D

  20. UNISONCarms

    Ok Mrs Smith, I won't call them b(_)ankers anymore but does this cut it?"@libcon: Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/DZKj3pHp"

  21. Citizen K

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  22. Molly

    RT @libcon: Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/X57pnHmU

  23. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  24. #OccupyUK

    Public: we want more Banker bashing! http://t.co/uQq0jtyk Bankers STOLE the Bailouts,TARP,Stimulus,QE,etc. & take big Bonuses as Rewards!

  25. Gildas Sapiens

    Public: we want more Banker bashing! http://t.co/iz6QNdqA Bankers STOLE the Bailouts,TARP,Stimulus,QE,etc. & take big Bonuses as Rewards!

  26. Oppressors.org

    Public: we want more Banker bashing! http://t.co/qcC1q2C4 Bankers STOLE the Bailouts,TARP,Stimulus,QE,etc. & take big Bonuses as Rewards!

  27. Gildas ApCaw Sapiens

    Public: we want more Banker bashing! http://t.co/vPfBZhrl Bankers STOLE the Bailouts,TARP,Stimulus,QE,etc. & take big Bonuses as Rewards!

  28. Greg

    Public: we want more Banker bashing! http://t.co/iz6QNdqA Bankers STOLE the Bailouts,TARP,Stimulus,QE,etc. & take big Bonuses as Rewards!

  29. tony loquasto

    Public: we want more Banker bashing! http://t.co/qcC1q2C4 Bankers STOLE the Bailouts,TARP,Stimulus,QE,etc. & take big Bonuses as Rewards!

  30. Emily Davis

    Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/1ZJXNIxT

  31. Janet Graham

    Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/1ZJXNIxT

  32. Janet Graham

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  33. Joseph Talbot

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  34. Phoenix SOTP

    http://t.co/eomR0kcF <— americans want MORE banker bashing not less. Time for a dunk tank where people dress up as bankers? #Occupy #OWS

  35. Dave Robinson

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  36. Joseph Burnett

    Embarrassingly for Conservatives – there is LOTS of public appetite for banker bashing http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  37. Raj Thamotheram

    We have a "teachable moment" on the bonus culture…the public are ready for radical action. Bashing isnt the answer …http://t.co/LVHoyJeH

  38. sitosplit

    #UK : Public: we want more banker bashing! http://t.co/jaAIfuxC

  39. NextGenerationLabour

    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fwV4lH8q via @libcon

  40. Davina Duggan

    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/qtpc1RRo via @libcon

  41. Rowland Paul Hill

    NextGenLab NextGenerationLabour
    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/aXivQxvx via @libcon Hear! Hear!

  42. andrew

    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy: We're indulging in too much banker bashing, wailed th… http://t.co/ANrW8q5V

  43. Link Loving 06.02.12 « Casper ter Kuile

    […] The public are fully behind taking on the finance industry. Sunny Hundal. […]

  44. sunny hundal

    @sophyridgesky morning! most Britons don't think its anti-business (see last Q) http://t.co/kYDCToYb

  45. TruthBeckons

    Public: we want more banker bashing! | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/gMPjsY3h via @libcon

  46. The only person who is anti-business is George Osborne « Mr Adam Richards

    […] by any stretch of the imagination, but even I can see that there is no economic logic by which public anger at excess bonuses leads to lower levels of employment. Perhaps the Chancellor could explain? Share […]





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