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From: The Socialist issue 821, 6 August 2014: Unite to fight pay robbery

Search site for keywords: Banks - Bankers - London - Bonuses - Austerity - Economic crisis

Regulating the banks? Don't make me laugh!

Tessa Warrington

Deep in the heart of London, the world's largest centre for international finance, bankers are quivering in fear. The cause of this state of affairs? Apparently, the Bank of England's terrible threat to 'claw back' the bonuses of 'badly-performing' bankers.

But can't bonuses already be withdrawn up to five years after they're awarded? Why yes, they can. The Bank of England's master stroke? To extend that time to seven years.

This will give London the "toughest regime in banking pay of any global financial centre," according to Anthony Browne of the British Banking Association. Well stop the press, because it sounds like all our troubles are over!

However, the banking industry has already begun retaliatory fear-mongering, with claims that this move will 'hurt' London by not being able to compete on salary with other finance capitals like New York and Hong Kong.

Once again the public are being held to ransom with the threat that losing the private finance sector will negatively impact upon society - but just look at the devastating austerity brought about when a 'functioning' private finance sector triggered a world economic crisis!

With scandal after scandal hitting the front pages, public trust in the banking system is at an all-time low, and the big-wigs of finance capital are frantically scrabbling to restore it.

One think tank has even gone so far as to suggest that bankers take an 'ethics oath'! But, as recent 'highlights' from the ongoing Libor-rigging scandal show, Lloyds bankers defrauded the very government-backed money-lending scheme created to bail them out! In the words of one analyst this was like "stealing from the fire brigade when they come to save your home".

Antony Jenkins, chief exec of Barclays reckons "banks have to regulate themselves", but who can honestly believe that left to their own devices the banks will ever be able to rein in their own profit-driven greed?

Financial crimes were punishable by death in England from the late Middle Ages until the Victorian era, and even that didn't stop people cooking the books.

These attempts to convince the public that the banks have repented their sins and are taking genuine steps to put their houses in order, are as insulting as they are ridiculous. It is the fear of the public demanding real punitive measures that really has the bankers shaking in their expensive boots.

The Socialist Party calls for nationalisation of the banks under democratic control from below as the only way to secure any kind of fundamental break from the exploitative grip of the banking system, and as a first step towards creating a society based upon people's need not private greed.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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