The Economy

Part of Council Tax Rebate – in the House of Commons at 5:50 pm on 31st March 2009.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras 5:50 pm, 31st March 2009

Some people will feel that I am looking to the past, but we have to accept that the British economy, the world economy and what we call the real economy are in serious trouble because of the crash of the casino economy run by bankers for the benefit of bankers. It has become fashionable to say, "Let's not be too hard on the bankers." I agree, because it is impossible to be too hard on the bankers. There are only two possible explanations for the mess they have got us into: either they could not tell the difference between liabilities and assets, in which case they are too stupid to be bankers; or they could tell, and they managed to sell liabilities claiming that they were assets, in which case they are fraudsters. Those are the only two possible explanations. If I may say so, there is no third way.

We are told that the bankers had to be paid millions because they were risk takers. We certainly could not deny that they were risk takers, but they were not taking risks with their own money. Many were not taking risks with their own jobs, and in some cases they were not taking risks with their own pensions. The consequences for many of them have been minimal, whereas for everyone else they have been dire. Other people's jobs and pensions have gone; 25,000 jobs in financial services went in the last quarter of last year, but few of those jobs belonged to the people at the top who were really coining it. It is bank clerks' jobs that have been disappearing. In that quarter, 160,000 jobs, including those of some of the regulators, went as a direct consequence of the stupidity and greed of the banking system. Jobs are not threatened because there is anything wrong with JCB equipment, Leyland-DAF vehicles or products in the aerospace industry; they are threatened because of the bankers. But people still argue that the bankers concerned are worth huge pay and bonuses.

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