The Chancellor Alistair Darling has stunned the City of London with his new 'get tough' policy, by telling Britain's Bankers '"The party's over." This is the latest in a series of initiatives by the government to show 'who is boss' and to make it clear that this government 'means business'.
The PM Gordon Brown has previously made it very clear that he is "not happy" that bankers are paying themselves massive bonuses once more. This has had the 'big swinging dicks' and 'masters of the universe' quite literally quaking in their boots.
Of course some commentators were of the opinion that 'the party was over' one year ago when the financial markets crashed and the demise of Lehman Brothers created the world's largest ever bankrupcy. But it appears that this was clearly not the case, according to Darling. For the past three months at least the phrase 'bonuses are back' has been on the lips of everyone still employed in the City.
Some wonder whether this new 'get tough' policy might be a response to the French approach. President Sarkozy of France has suggested he will leave G20 negotiations unless a “substantial, significant and detailed” deal on controlling bankers’ bonuses is reached. Already this week, Lord Turner of the FSA has intimated that many bankers offer little to society with their complex trades. And today, Lord Myners the City Minister has called for greater transparency in pay deals.
Whether the government's new assertiveness will amount to more than a hill of beans, is unclear. No one has yet come up with a viable way of curbing excessive pay packets. And most expect Gordon Brown, despite his 'noises' to back down when it comes to the crunch (not the credit sort, but the other sort). For Gordon has always realised that the City was the 'goose that laid the golden egg' (of high tax revenue). Now, why would he want to kill that goose, even if, from time to time, the bird sprays shit all over the place - as indeed it did one year ago.