Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Given them an inch and they will take at least a Cable

The rather synthetic cries of outrage from “the capitalists’ spokesmen” alerted me to the fact that someone had dared to suggest that capitalism was either:

  • not all it was cracked up to be, or
  • if it was, then maybe society did not feel they benefited from capitalism

Obviously a really major ground-breaking speech was about to be made.

So what did “Vermilion Vince” actually say at the Liberal conference?

On banks, I make no apology for attacking spivs and gamblers who did more harm to the British economy than Bob Crow could achieve in his wildest Trotskyite fantasies, while paying themselves outrageous bonuses underwritten by the taxpayer,


Why should good companies be destroyed by short-term investors looking for a speculative killing, while their accomplices in the City make fat fees? Why do directors sometimes forget their wider duties when a cheque is waved before them?

Capitalism takes no prisoners and kills competition where it can, as Adam Smith explained over 200 years ago.

Yet from the “city reaction” (the “cosy magic circles in auditing, law or investment banking”), you would think he had struck at the very core of market capitalism instead of just threatening to stop certain groups  from using our economy as their private plaything, leaching their bonuses and fees from it.

For example: the shareholder’s circular for the Recommended Acquisition of HBOS plc by Lloyds TSB Group plc (surely one of the most successful bit of financial work of the last decade) lists the following “advisers”:

  • Morgan Stanley & Co. Ltd
  • Dresdner Kleinwort Limited
  • KPMG audit Plc
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP
  • Allen & Overy LLP
  • Dickson Minto W.S.

I can’t find the specific fees that they received, but in the document (on p.266), Lloyds TSB showed in their accounts, professional fees of £114,000,000 in the 6 months to 30 June 2008, and another £150,000,000 in the previous six months, more than £¼billion for the whole year (for comparison the net cost of services (after user contributions) for the whole of Northumberland County Council in 2007-2008 was £50,000,000 less!)  It puts the cuts in context.

I find it hard to take exception to what Vermilion Vince said, he seemed very restrained.  But the city children do sound like spoilt kids who have been caught with their hands in the sweetie jar.


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