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From: The Socialist issue 845, 25 February 2015: Kick out corrupt politicians

Search site for keywords: Bonuses - Bankers - HSBC - Tax - Rich - Pay - Super-rich - Banks

Put the bankers in the stocks!

Simon Carter

It's bankers' bonuses week! The public can expect a slew of media stories detailing how these capitalist parasites have once again stuffed their pockets with fabulous sums of money, while we ordinary mortals continue to suffer falling living standards.

But should these 'masters of the universe' forget, the banking system, and indeed capitalism, was only saved after the 2008 crash by several trillion pounds in bailouts and 'quantitative easing'. These subventions came from public funds, courtesy of Labour and Tory/Lib Dem governments.

This year, corporate banking chiefs are subject to a bonus cap. However, with the bonus limit set to a maximum of 200% of their pay, stumping up the cash to pay the electricity bill shouldn't prove to be a problem for them!


But while most people would gladly see top bankers placed in medieval stocks and pelted with rotten fruit, these fat cats continue to enjoy the support of establishment politicians. (Not exactly surprising as the Tory party is largely funded by these rich financiers.)

The latest defence of the indefensible comes from Wales Tory MEP Kay Swinburne - herself a former corporate banker - who appeared to encourage bankers to get around the bonus cap.

Meanwhile, the disgraced HSBC banking group announced a fall in its profits (to a 'mere' $18.7 billion), with chief executive Stuart Gulliver accepting a drop in pay. He may even waive his expected 1.3 million bonus.

Interestingly, HSBC blames its profits fall among other things on a series of fines and legal settlements, as well as the costs of reimbursing UK customers for mis-selling.

One reason for Mr Gulliver's humbling is that in his travels he has admitted using the same Swiss branch of HSBC where super-rich clients salted away their wealth to avoid (and in some cases to evade) paying UK taxes.

'Non-dom' Mr Gulliver has 5 million in the account which he controls using an offshore Panamanian company.

This latest example of reported tax avoidance comes only days after HSBC took out newspaper adverts apologising for the tax dodging advice given to its super-rich clients.

The government is under public pressure to initiate legal action against HSBC. But, even at best, the bank will only face another fine. It's high time the entire banking system was brought to task for its murky dealings and blatant profiteering on the backs of public bailouts.

The best way to achieve this is to nationalise the major banks under democratic workers' control and management, as part of a socialist plan of economic production geared to meeting society's needs, not the wealthy's greed.

The adage 'He who pays the piper calls the tune' is amply illustrated by recent revelations at the Daily Telegraph - owned by the tax-avoiding Barclay brothers.

Long serving Telegraph journalist Peter Oborne resigned after complaining that the newspaper had ditched any critical coverage of the HSBC tax dodging scandal in order to keep the bank's advertising. It also emerged that the Telegraph owners had obtained a sizeable loan from HSBC in order to keep its loss making parcel delivery company afloat.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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