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Them & Us
Bonus restraint? Fat chance!
I have just seen with disgust that Bob Diamond, the boss of Barclays Bank, is in line for a £10 million bonus (on top of his £1.3 million a year salary) for his efforts in the financial world this year. Despite being personally described by former business secretary Lord Mandelson as being the "unacceptable face of banking", and also having been spoken to by current Business Secretary Vince Cable, I am sure that Mr Diamond will pursue his claim for his bonus in full. This makes a joke of David Cameron's recent requests for restraint for executive bonuses in the City - fat chance!
All this is happening at a time when Chancellor Osbourne has said that we are all in this together and we need to pull our belts in a bit tighter! Yeah, sure George, except get the City sorted out first mate!
Lin Black, Swansea
According to education secretary Michael Gove, street parties just won't cut it for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. No, we need something really special, he says, to recognise Her Majesty's "highly significant contribution". So what shall we do? Some jewellery maybe? A bottle of bubbly? Not good enough says Gove, it'll have to be a £60 million royal yacht.
Meanwhile Gove is slashing school budgets and insisting that there's absolutely no money in the pot for teachers' pensions. Even better, the leaked letter revealing the proposal attributes the idea to David Willetts, the universities minister, who is so convinced the country is broke he wants students to pay £9,000 a year for the privilege of an education. Some are even suggesting that university students stay on the ship and their fees be directly used to maintain it!
By all accounts, it was a hard Christmas. There were a few less presents under most families' trees. And of course that affected companies' profits too - it's not only poor people suffering from this crisis, you know! But it does seem that some people are more able to cushion themselves than others. Noel Robbins, senior executive for Tesco, sold £200,000 worth of shares in the company just a week before they announced the worst Christmas sales in decades which led to a 16% drop in share price - coincidence? We don't think so. Not sure Tesco workers will have such a get-out clause when the company tries to make up the lost profits with job and pay cuts either.
Blair cashes in
Former prime minister Tony Blair has joined the likes of Sir Philip Green in finding 'clever' ways to avoid his tax bill. Just one of Blair's companies, Windrush Ventures, made £12 million last year but managed to write off £11 million as 'administrative expenses' and so only paid £315,000 tax! This isn't even the full picture of his income either - much of it is hidden because of how many companies he has and the complex relationships between them. For example Blair also has the imaginatively named Windrush Ventures No2 and Windrush Ventures No3.
So, when Tony Blair parted ways with public office he was left with the resources and contacts to make millions every year for the rest of his life, whereas we were left with the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Lovely.