The Coalition’s Last Stand

Black RodDennis Skinner summed up the country’s mood when he declared the recent Queen’s speech to be the “Coalition’s last stand.” The Government set out their agenda for the next 12 months leading up to the general election. It was a missed opportunity, lacking the ideas, policy and ambition that is required to meet the challenges we face, neither did it address the clear concerns and disconnect that was present during the local and European election.

We must face facts, our politics is broken when people no longer believe voting can make a difference to their lives. We needed a Queen’s Speech that set a new direction and offered hope but instead there was no policy to tackle the cost of living crisis, make work pay, or rebalancing the economy to allow every to share the benefits of growth. Unfortunately, we got more of the same from a rudderless Government who are planning when it is best to break up the Coalition in order to maximise their electoral chances.

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Cable still doesn’t get the extent of corporate greed

Vince Cable, to give him credit, is the one member of the Cabinet who is seriously concerned about pay extremism in the boardroom. The rest are seriously in favour of it. But the measures he has so far put in place, albeit harried at every turn by the Tory Right, will achieve little.

He has given shareholders a binding vote at least once every 3 years on executive pay policy, and that each CEO’s remuneration package should be published as a single total. He has now written to the chairmen of remuneration committees of Britain’s FTSE-100 companies insisting they do more to curb top pay, and if they do not, then with indeterminate menace their ‘business’ licence to operate’ could be undermined. What the latter threat actually amounts to is anybody’s guess. Continue reading

What should bankers be paid?

As bankers’ pay + bonuses + long-term incentive schemes + share options + pension largesse begins to head north again as though the biggest financial/economic crash caused by them hadn’t happened and as City bonuses rise above £4bn this year, what does the public believe that bankers should be paid? Remarkably, nobody seems to have asked them. Certainly not the government which is far more concerned whether unemployed persons on job seekers allowance deserve their £71 a week ‘handout’.

It might come as some surprise to members of the public – and perhaps even to ministers – that there were 2,436 bankers in the City in 2011 paid a minimum of €1 million a year, that is a minimum of £16,025 a week, or to put it another way at least 271 times what someone on job seekers allowance gets. Of course a banker should be paid more than someone who is jobless, but 225 times? Or in the case of the top banking elite 1,000 times more? Continue reading

Top pay for those who decide the pay of the top paid

In Britain last year, pay rose on average by 1.9%, says Income Data Services. That is of course, in real terms, not a rise at all, but a pay cut of 0.7%. The pay of the bosses of Britain’s top companies which employ a very large number of us, the Chairmen of FTSE 100 companies, went up by very much more — 6%. No surprises there.

And why did those experienced “independent” directors who protect the interest of those FTSE companies’ shareholders (including our own pension funds and insurers) allow their bosses’ pay to rise by so much more? Could it be, perhaps, because their own pay (that of the senior independent directors of the FTSE 100) rose by 10%. But it gets worse Continue reading

Tough on benefits,velvet soft on top pay & tax avoidance

So Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, cheers us up today by telling us that if a quarter of the annual tax receipts foregone through either avoidance, evasion or uncollected debt were actually levied, it could cut income tax by 2p in the £ (roughly £10bn). It would have been better if he’d said it would then not be necessary for Cameron in his speech today to propose robbing and harassing those who genuinely need benefits for which they have contributed via national insurance contributions and which he has no contractual authority to renege on. Continue reading