The Socialist 16 February 2011 |
Join the Socialist
The Tories and the City
IT'S BEEN confirmed: they are all in it together. David Cameron and his Conservative Party receive the majority of their funding, not just from big business, but London's 'square mile' financial centre itself.
Over the last five years, 'the City' has donated £42 million to the Tories, 51% of all their funding, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
In the first nine months of 2010, 57 individuals from the city donated £50,000 each to the Tories; six out of ten Tory party donations came from financiers; and, last November, two of the top ten donors - Stanley Fink and George Magan - received peerages.
These donations have rolled in at a time when anger at the banks is reaching fever pitch. Government ministers have been forced to say that they will 'get tough' with the bankers and their bonuses. But dozens of bankers will have been having cosy chats with Cameron and other leading Tories as an entitlement of their 'donations'. What are they likely to have discussed? The weather?!
Many in the media are timidly asking the glaringly obvious as a question: 'Are the banks the paymasters of the Tories?' Of course they are! What further proof is needed than the announcements of Project Merlin - the new agreement between Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and the government?
Arising from Merlin, the bank 'levy', or tax, is to be increased by £800 million to £2.5 billion, a figure representing 0.075% of their government debt (or three-quarters of one-tenth of 1% of the money thrown at the banks!). Merlin also says that business lending will increase by 6% this year to £190 billion and the pay of the five most senior executives below board level must be revealed; while bonuses will be frozen at the 2010 levels.
Even the pro-big business Economist magazine virtually laughed at this, saying: "[an] extra £11 billion of loans, split among four firms with trillions of assets between them, is a rounding error. Disclosing the pay of a few bankers, who in theory will remain anonymous, is an irrelevance, except perhaps for them."
We would add to this that freezing bonuses at last year's astronomical levels is hardly 'getting tough'. Indications are that the bonus pot this year will be £6 billion based on pre-tax profits at the 'big four' of £20 billion.
Against the backdrop of massive public sector cuts, job losses and an economy sliding back into recession, this is outrageous. This is government of the rich, for the rich, by the rich. The Tories response, that it is "childish drivel" to suggest that bankers are influencing policy, suggests how Project Merlin got its name. The Tories have found a conjuring trick that means for the first time in human history money doesn't buy influence! Of course this is nonsense. And it's a lie that public sector workers and working class people will not fall for.
The bunch of crooks running the banks should be sacked immediately and their bonuses confiscated. Past bonuses should be repaid in full. The entire banking sector should be taken into full public ownership and under democratic working class control. The vast funds of the super-rich stashed in the banks should be used to improve the lives of everyone not just the tiny clique at the top.
None of the main political parties, Labour included, will make any serious moves against the top-bankers. Working people need to create a new mass workers' party - free of big business's vested interests - to campaign for socialist nationalisation of the banks and end the rule of the fat cats.