Financial Sector Pushes for 'Improved Relationship' with Parliament in The Times

The Editors, 4 February 2012 | 1 Comment

Categories: Finance | Politics | Conservative Party | The Times |

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'We can't do business in the UK, say top bankers', claims the front page of Saturday's Times. After a week in which chief executive of RBS, Stephen Hester, backed away from a £1m bonus, while his predecessor, Fred Goodwin, was stripped of his knighthood, the lead article by Patrick Hosking and David Wighton presents a backlash from the banking world, a message to British elites that behaviour like this is making London 'the worst major centre in the world in which to do banking', according to an unnamed 'senior executive at a Wall St bank'.

The article opens with the statement that 'ministers have been accused of joining an anti-business bandwagon by pandering to public opinion and demonising company chiefs'. To pander is defined as to 'gratify or indulge (an immoral or distasteful desire or taste or a person with such a desire or taste)', and this definition reflects quite well the apparent contempt of these 'leading bankers' for public opinion.

A 'senior banker' is quoted as saying that: 'There's a bit of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde about Cameron and Osborne. [...] They come out with all the right language to us in private. But they can't resist the call of the mob. Has this reduced our respect for the coalition? The answer without a shadow of a doubt is yes.'

Chairman of TheCityUK (a group that promotes the financial services industry), Stuart Popham 'warned against further escalation of the rhetoric. "Otherwise we put at risk the relationship between financial services and those in Parliament and more widely - a relationship that has to be improved so that we can all concentrate on growing the economy and doing our job."'

The general insistence of those interviewed, on improving the ties between Parliament and the financial sector, and that the interest of the financial sector come before those of the public, shows disdain for democracy.

As the debate continues in the run-up to the commons vote on 'ending the bonus culture' next Tuesday, questions arise about the compatibility of a functioning democratic system with free reign for business. Yet serious debate rarely surfaces in the media. Even when the leaderships of Greece and Italy were replaced with unelected technocrats in 2011, the consequences for any meaningful democracy went unexamined in favour of conjecture on future economic stability. To take a recent example of the views of Times owner, Rupert Murdoch, on the value of public opinion, when millions of American citizens petitioned Congress in January to insist they vote against SOPA and PIPA, this act of participation in the democratic system was ridiculed by Murdoch as 'terrorizing'.

When, (as the Times points out) 'from July 2010 to the end of June 2011, more than half the 12.2 million handed to the Tory party's central office came from donors linked to the City', we must ask: should policy bend to those with the funds to purchase it, or should it be established democratically, in regard to the views of the public?

Categories in which this article appears: Finance | Politics | Conservative Party | The Times |

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Comments (1)

1. Nigel Cheffers-Heard05 February 2012 10:01

Exactly; what the bankers call "the call of the mob" is what we call "democratic accountability". They take the profits, we carry the can. No longer.

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