The Board of the Royal Bank-that-we-own of Scotland are behaving like a flock of Sir Desmond Glazebrooks, the incompetent but wily banker of "Yes, Monster" and "Yes, Prime Monster" fame, who would insist treating all the good chaps like good chaps because it wouldn't be being a good chap to do otherwise.
"We HAVE to give out a BILLION-and-a-HALF QUID in bonuses or the good chaps will leave," they whine. "And if you won't let us, we'll all QUIT!"
Well, HURRAY for Mr Dr Vince "the Power" Cable, Sage of Twickenham, calling their bluff: ok, he says, quit then!
Listen to Saint Vince on the The Today Programme. And yah boo to anyone who says politicians don't answer the question he answers each one straight.
TODAY: If you were Chancellor what would you do?Mr Dr Vince is, of course, RIGHT. It is about time someone called these ghastly bankers' bluff and told them that THEY have got to contribute something to cleaning up the MESS that THEY made.
St Vince: I'd accept their resignations and be very clear that this bank has to operate in the interest of the public.
TODAY: But what about the minority investors?
St Vince: Well, what about the MAJORITY investors – i.e. the Great British public who own 80% of this bank and have put in billions and billions of pounds. The minority shareholders were largely big institutions who sat passively by and allowed the crisis to develop.
TODAY: Won't the board argue that what they're doing IS in the public interest, making a profit to get the public's money back?
St Vince: Of course the taxpayer should get their money back but that's not the only objective. There's also restoring the flow of credit to small and medium sized British businesses who are still finding it very difficult to obtain credit.
TODAY: If they don't get "the going rate" won't the good staff will go to Goldman Sacked (to do "god's work", one guesses)
St Vince: Let's not forget the five-thousand people in the City earning over a million are all ultimately guaranteed by the taxpayer, the Government has effectively said they'll underwrite them. This is not "normal commercial business" in the sense most that people would understand it.
TODAY: Lord Mandeltine says that the Government is asking for restraint from the bankers but that RBS won't be singled out.
St Vince: Well, Darth Sideious, excuse me, Lord Mandeltine has got to be firm. The bank is effectively blackmailing the Government by saying do what we say or we will walk. The Government has put in billions of taxpayers' money and has got to exert some discipline.
Now, let's see if Mr Frown will "save the world" or save the bankers' bonuses.
PS:Mr Stephen of the Glenn points out that that the Scottish Bankers are like the Scottish Nasties in their threat to toss their toys out of the pram if they can't spend public money their own way. He also shows that the total bankers at the Bank-that-we-own want to take a QUARTER of the profits for their own wallets. Not so much repaying the public investment there then.
The lovely Caron muses that the bankers should be more than a bit grateful that they've still GOT jobs rather than whinging that they are not being overpaid enough.
And even CGI (Charlotte Gore, Independent) is up for calling the bankers' bluff… on the grounds that they're venal Government quislings, naturally.