6th April, 2010
I wrote the piece below for the Labour Party site Labour List but it got bumped across to Left Foot Forward. While waiting for its publication I did some superficial research on the use of the term ‘banksters’.
It is a term in wide use in the US, where it is associated with progressive political forces, and where the debate pits ‘Wall St’ against ‘Main St’, or ‘Wall St’ against ‘the little guy’ or ‘taxpayer’. See for example, this piece by the wonderful Rolling Stone writer on finance, Matt Taibi, and the associated cartoon.
Two Irish authors, David Murphy and Martin Devlin have written a book titled ‘Banksters – how a powerful elite squandered Ireland’s wealth’. So the Irish are not precious about the term.
Which might explain British nervousness with the term. On the other hand our fastidiousness may just reflect the collusion of our various elites – political, media and otherwise – with the finance sector, and the excessive deference bestowed on bankers, sorry banksters.
Anyway, here follows the piece on how banksters are standing as parliamentary candidates for the Conservative Party.
Local Labour Parties have a golden opportunity to save us all from the parasitic behaviour of the finance sector.
There appear to be at least 48 financiers fighting for a Parliamentary seat from which to defend the interests of the City. They are there to fight the good fight on behalf of the City’s greed and it’s reckless ‘offshore capitalism’.
Banksters know they are in a hard fight, not just because of the bad odour in which they are held.
Not just because they are despised by decent, hard-working people.
Not just because taxpayers have subsidised them to the tune of £1,000,000,000,000 – according to the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King.
And no, not just because they are resisting the threat of Labour regulation.
No, they are having a hard time because they also have to fight the Tory leadership’s threat to regulate the finance sector, and remove greedy snouts from the bonus trough.
David Cameron has called for a tax on banks – even without international support – but Tory candidates are not backing their leader on this one. They have derided his policy as ‘whistling in the wind’.
George Osborne has called on financial regulators to “combine forces and stop retail banks paying out profits in significant cash bonuses. Full stop.”
But the bankster candidates disagree.
The Financial Times, in a survey of Tory candidates, has identified 48 that “have had jobs in the City or financial services’. More than 30% of those that responded to the FT’s questionnaire said “they were uncomfortable with strict financial regulation, with several saying they would prefer it to be left to markets. Many believed that a cap on bonuses was undesirable”.
“If we start imposing rules and regulations in this country that aren’t matched in other countries around the world, we risk losing that business and that golden egg,” said Richard Drax, candidate for South Dorset.
Heather Wheeler, candidate for South Derbyshire, said: “Now that financial markets are so international that if you can’t get all main players to agree, you are whistling in the wind.”
Sjid Javid, former managing director at Deutsche Bank AG and candidate for Bromsgrove, said: “I think in a free market you can’t really dictate how much people should get paid.”
John Lamont, standing for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, added: “We need to be attracting the best brains and talent to the sector….I would be very nervous about (regulation).
The candidates declined to disclose the size of their bonuses. Harriet Baldwin, who worked as a pension fund manager for JPMorgan and is now the candidate for West Worcestershire said: “I haven’t even told my husband that.”
If she hasn’t told her husband, will she tell her electors? And will her opponents demand transparency?
I hope so. Because voters need to know if banksters are standing for Parliament to defend the interests of their electors.
Or to represent a parasitic elite in the City of London – determined to carry on milking taxpayers?