Scarcely two years after they were rescued from going bust by £1100 billion (yes, £1100 billion — £18,000 for each child, woman and man in the UK) of cash, loans, and credit guarantees from the taxpayer, the bankers are blithely coining it again.
Meanwhile the Cameron government is making public service workers and the worse-off pay the price of the bailout and of the bankers’ crisis through crushing cuts.
Barclays boss Bob Diamond will get a bonus of £9.5 million this month. At the Royal Bank of Scotland, saved only by a government buyout, over 200 fatcats will get bonuses of over £1 million each.
Two years ago Prince Andrew, in a comment which shows what world the royals live in, deplored fuss about bankers’ bonuses because, he said, really they are “minute”.
In a way, though, he’s right. The millions in bonuses are only the icing on the cake of billions in profits.
2010 profits for the biggest four banks, to be announced this month, are expected to be over £24 billion (Daily Telegraph, 30 January).
The total profit figure for all the banks may be £30 billion.
That profit figure, for one year, equals the total of the planned scything of benefits, local services, and education for the next four years.
Labour should quit engaging in petty quibbling about the details, and commit itself to seizing the whole of the bankers’ wealth for public purposes, so that investment can be democratically controlled for social ends, rather than geared to the enrichment of a minority of profiteers.
I agree in principle with your demand that Labour should "commit itself to seizing the whole of the bankers’ wealth for public purposes" ... but to leave it at that seems a little strange. I note that elsewhere this week's Solidarity condemns the SWP's "demagogic calls for a general strike" but I think the above call for mass nationalisation of the banking industry sounds just as superficial in this context. If the Labour leadership announced this as its policy tomorrow, what would happen? Where is the support for a such a policy to come from? The probable answer is that Labour would consign itself to oblivion by announcing such plans without the backing of a powerful workers' movement, both at home and abroad, to defend its policies against attacks from domestic and global capital, not to mention a hostile media and a currently hostile electorate. That powerful workers' movement simply doesn't exist at the moment -- so what could be gained from asking the modern Labour Party to sign up to such a commitment now? Perhaps a better way of putting this might have been: "A workers' government, with the backing of a militant trade union movement, would commit itself to seizing the whole of the bankers’ wealth for public purposes..."?