The following article was written by Cllr Judy Terry and may or may not reflect my views. I do not edit or pass comment on my guest writers work:
IT’S LABOUR WHO ARE OUT OF TOUCH by Councillor J Terry
During Question Time last week, the PM was censured for using the word ‘hypocrisy’ because it was ‘unparliamentary’.
I am not governed by the same strictures, so I can say that it is hypocritical of Ed Miliband to criticise those who are wealthy, and wealth creators, whether through their own hard work or inheritance, when you have considerable wealth yourself! Referring to the government as ‘multi-millionaires’ and ‘out of touch’ because of their wealth, is hypocritical when you, yourself, live in a multi-million pound property and have an income which is well beyond most people’s wildest dreams. If Ed wants a class war, he is attacking himself and his own family.
Lord Mandelson famously said that he had ‘no problem with people being filthy rich’, and certainly he wasn’t slow in making a substantial fortune during his years in the public service. Indeed, the Blairs have followed in his footsteps, making squillions in the few years since he left office; there have even been questions over the amount of tax he pays, and certainly over the fact that you and I are still forking out around £6m a year for the former PM’s security.
So, let’s remember that, long with members of the government - Conservative and Liberal - both the Milibands and many on Ed’s own Labour front bench benefited from a fine education at some of the UK’s, and indeed the world’s, greatest universities. It is a shame that too few of them didn’t also benefit from having ‘proper jobs’ in the real world.
Which leads me onto the unseemly attacks on bankers. Let me make it clear that I have no idea what people at the top of the banking industry actually do, and I doubt whether most politicians do either, so I am not qualified to question what they are paid. However, I do believe that excessive pay is an affront to society, especially when those who are paid such large sums appear to be without a social conscience.
I find it equally distasteful that footballers are paid so many millions just for kicking a ball around, which means that the average punter can’t afford a season ticket. I am also affronted by the £850,000 salary for the Director General of the BBC, let alone his pension entitlements which are in the realms of a lottery win!
But, back to banks. Apart from RBS, these are private businesses, owned by shareholders which include pension funds. I agree that shareholders should tighten their employees’ belts, and be cognisant of the restraints under which the rest of us are struggling. Nevertheless, witch-hunts against individuals are tasteless and unproductive, and the last thing I want is for the public sector to take over running RBS because it would be a disaster. Banking is a reactive industry, and decision-making needs to be quick, not something for which the public sector is renowned!
I resent politicians’ interference for two main reasons: Firstly, bashing bankers may be populist, but it gives the wrong impression to business, and that includes overseas business, which wants to expand or create new investments in our country. If we over-tax and have an anti-business culture, they will go somewhere else, taking their billions and job creation with them. This is what happened under previous Labour administrations, and it took years to rebuild confidence in the UK.
Secondly, the banks will pull up the drawbridge. Just as we need them to be lending money to existing and new businesses, homebuyers and those of us who may want to buy a new car or build an extension, they will refuse even modest loans. This is what is happening now, and the coffers need to be opened if we are to restore our economy.
Finally, may I remind you that the biggest failure of the banking industry was bad regulation – and whilst there are key figures who were culpable for mismanaging their own banks, the major culpability lies with the last Labour government. Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, and Tony Blair, and every other Cabinet member, who set aside their financial responsibilities for political gain, by promoting the ‘no more boom and bust’ mantra. They had a duty to all of us to manage our finances efficiently, not selling our gold at the lowest ever price, and not permitting the economy to overheat.
They failed miserably. Ed Miliband should remember that next time he accuses the front bench of being out of touch; it is Labour which is out of touch by refusing to acknowledge how badly they let us all down.