Ed Miliband’s article in the Observer today is a model of how a Leader should handle the kind of row that breaks out from time to time in all parties and in most organisations. He has called in the police to investigate the facts, demands that the truth should be openly and transparently made known, and if there has been any breach of the party rules or if those rules need to be extended or modified, then that will be dealt with.
He has not however succumbed to the siren voices on the Blairite Right demanding that Falkirk be used to break Labour’s umbilical link with the unions. He is going to mend the link, not end the link. That is a thoroughly sensible and balanced way to resolve this matter which should certainly not be brushed under the carpet, but has been blown up out of all proportion against the background of the constant shenanigans fixing selections practised under the previous Blair-Brown regimes and sanctioned from the top.
Compare that with how Cameron-Osborne respond to the banks, the puppet-masters of the Tory party who provide every year more than half their money as donations and ruthlessly extract as donors far more political influence and partisan policies to serve their own interests than the unions have ever had, or even dreamt of having, from Labour. The banks cost this country £68bn in direct bailout costs for RBS and Lloyds plus over the last 5 years another £800bn in liquidity schemes, loan guarantees and asset protection schemes.
So have Cameron-Osborne been strong and resolute in striking down the banks, their paymasters, for their recklessness and greed in nearly wrecking the entire UK economy? Like heck – they’ve been treated with velvet gloves and continue to have favours bestowed on them at every turn.
It has taken Cameron-Osborne 5 years to take any action at all on the banks despite the biggest financial crash for a hundred years, and even now the so-called Banking Reform bill currently before Parliament is weak as ditch-water. It does not split investment from retail banking (only sets up Chinese Walls which the City chisellers will breach in no time), it postpones raising the banks’ capital ratios will 2019 (!), and it takes no action to stop trading in toxic financial derivatives which were at the heart of the sub-prime mortgage scandal that triggered the crash.
Quite a pay-off for the banks for their 30 shekels of silver to their Tory retainers. In addition, the Tories have slavishly done their masters’ bidding by using every manoeuvre possible to block the EU cap on bankers’ bonuses, and have cut back the 50p tax rate handing out an extra £2,000 a week on average to their banker millionaire friends. It is significant that the only real constraint on bankers’ abuses have come from the US Fed’s decision to implement the Basel III capital rules now instead of waiting another 5 years, and from the EU Commission’s assault on how banks trade credit derivatives. Lucky the bankers are not trade unionists!