Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Need to Grow Up Where Bankers Are Concerned

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Need to Grow Up Where Bankers Are Concerned

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Blackhurst City Editor

WHAT sort of country do we want? Last week on this page, I wrote about how we can revitalise our manufacturing industry, allowed to go into shameful decline. Much of the reason for that neglect was the politicians' new-found love for the City. As one fell, the other rose. Then it's announced that Bob Diamond is to succeed John Varley at Barclays, and all hell breaks loose. Diamond, the superstar boss of Barclays Capital, is deemed by many at Westminster to be unfit for the job. Apparently his sin is to be paid too much.

This, despite Diamond being far and away the best candidate for the post -- to the extent that Barclays would look very fragile indeed if the head of its most profitable division were to walk. His appointment is entirely logical and correct. For Barclays to have done anything else would have been foolish in the extreme.

Yet Diamond and Barclays are traduced.

It's madness. We destroyed our manufacturing heritage because we stopped loving it. Now here we are again, in danger of alienating our bankers to the extent that those who are here wish to leave, and the ones that are not have no intention of coming.

Admittedly, Barclays' timing is insensitive.

But when would there be a right time? As for the argument that his earnings are excessive, it too does not stack up. Presumably, we would like Barclays to cease rewarding by performance, as all its competitors do, and to cap its employees' pay. Fine -- provided we're happy to have a mediocre bank instead of one that with Diamond's BarCap is up there with the best in the world.

It is the case that bankers do no help themselves, that some of their behaviour, involving plenty of conspicuous consumption, has been repellent. But the unpalatable, unavoidable fact is that we need these bankers to earn their money to pay their taxes to keep our hospitals and schools afloat. …

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