There are two different universes at Westminster, completely disconnected. One is about Hester who has sacked thousands and still presides over RBS languishing at a share price only half of what taxpayers paid for in the bailout, but who has already on top of his £550,000 salary (£10,575 a week) gained £11m in bonuses and incentives and looks set to pick up another £6m for a fairly unexceptional performance. Continue reading
Getting one banker voluntarily to forego one bonus, one time, is the easy bit. But taking on the entrenched enrichissez vous ethos that pervades the financial sector will not be achieved by moral suasion alone.
Don’t get me wrong, Ed Miliband has handled the Simon Hester affair in a manner that compensates – well, ever so slightly, perhaps – for the self-inflicted damage brought about by the Labour leadership’s accommodation to austerity. Continue reading
What political leader in Opposition has ever stopped in its tracks what looked like irresistible momentum towards a disaster? No, I can’t think of one either.
Certainly not Cameron – can you remember any of the positions he took during the 5 years before the 2010 election, apart from slyly posing beside a dog-sleigh in the Arctic? Nor Blair, except his flying off to Hayman Island off Australia to pay sycophantic homage to Murdoch’s News International just before the 1997 election. Not even Thatcher who spent 4 undistinguished years as Tory Opposition Leader 1975-9 and failed to leave any mark whatever on the tumultuous struggles of the late 1970s.
Yet Ed Miliband has now twice outmanoeuvred some of the most powerful forces in the land and forced the government on to a humiliating defensive. By any standards, given the lack of executive power, that is a stunning tactical and strategic achievement. Continue reading