An NHS march passed through London this week. The medics who so selflessly devote their working lives to saving lives were protesting about the Coalition cuts that are threatening front line health services. As they passed the offices of Deutche Bank, staff goaded them by waving bank notes from the windows. Just a joke? Hardly.
When a 'Right to Work' march passed Eton in 1978, schoolboys jeered at them, leading to the 'row in Slough' that Paul Weller turned into The Jam's hit single 'Eton Rifles'. By the 1980s London football fans were routinely flashing wads on the terraces at Anfield or St James Park, a wind-up that was parodied by comedian Harry Enfield with his Sun-reading, Tory-voting cockney wide-boy, 'Loadsamoney'.
The likes of Stephen Hester, Josef Ackermann,
Fred Goodwin and Bob Diamond have been
waving their wads at the rest of us for years.
Somehow I doubt these white-shirted cretins get satire. I suspect their motives were sheer arrogance. After all, the two imbeciles caught on camera are drones of Josef Ackermann. The Deutche Bank Chief Executive received £8 million in bonuses in 2009 and has vociferously defended the bank bonus culture ever since. Other senior bankers, like Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester, are relishing their status as cogs in the City (whether or not these cogs are actually doing any turning at all). Despite his bank being rescued by the UK taxpayer, it is still making a loss. Despite making a loss Hester is expected to receive a £7.7 million bonus.
To mock hard-working individuals who will takes months to match what these keyboard-tappers earn in a week is repugnant. Apparently the gormlessly grinning guy with the tenner was suspended when the Sunday Mirror showed their photograph to his superiors. That is a small consolation. But in terms of affecting the City's bonus culture, it's business as usual. The likes of Hester, Ackermann, Fred Goodwin and Bob Diamond have been waving their wads at the rest of us for years,
If there are signs of a those mythical ‘green shoots of recovery’ after the recession, you’d need an expensive microscope to see them. A recent survey revealed 76% of Scots are still worried about money, with 50% believing they will be worse off in 2011. The banks have been propped up with our money and what promises do we get in return? Job cuts. And what about the financial institutions who started the ball rolling downhill in the first place? Those pillars of western society whose reckless behaviour dragged us all into the red?
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) recently issued a damning indictment of ‘business as usual’ at Scotland’s main banks. Low income customers are still hammered for overdraft charges (despite the protracted and, ultimately, futile attempt by the Office of Fair Trading to challenge these punitive penalties through the courts). Despite us, the taxpayers, bailing out the banks, nothing has changed. Despite noises about ‘a new sense of responsibility’, they continue to rob their customers personal accounts (using corporate legislation instead of guns).
The CAS report quoted some harrowing stories. A client in poor mental health whose £2 overdraft resulted in £180 worth of charges over 2 months. Someone charged £66 for going 60p overdrawn. A 77-year old charged £300 in a month for a single bounced transaction. Extrapolate these horror stories across the UK and you can see what these ‘green shoots of recovery’ really mean. The poor being robbed to help the rich. Business as usual.