Could Cameron make a drastic new move on bankers’ pay?

Perhaps, if a former adviser has his way

He’s running a government nobody thought would happen and this time our prime minister is doing it on his terms. No more compromises, no more coalitions.

So we’re led to believe we’ll soon start to see what a modern Conservative government really can do, without it being diluted by the Lib Dems.

Does this mean the kind of drastic action we haven’t seen in the previous government? At least some people think that’s what he should be doing.

David Cameron’s former director of strategy has said the prime minister should ensure bankers are paid no more than those in the public sector. The bosses of the UK’s largest banks should have salaries equalling those of top civil servants, Steve Hilton said.

This would mean bankers would be earning just a fraction of the multi-millions they earn now – about £100,000-£200,000.

But before you scoff – just read what he has to say.

Hilton said if banks are in a position where they need to be bailed out by the state, they should play by the same rules as other parts of the state.

Capping pay would mean “they might decide to split themselves up or we could do that forcibly”.

“The goal here is to create a much more secure financial system where you don’t have these giant companies that pose a threat to the whole economy,” he told the BBC.

He said competition authorities were not intrusive enough too.

He said: “I think the competition authorities need to be much more aggressive generally and specifically where you have a concentration of power.

“They should be using their powers to make the market more competitive, now whether that is breaking them [banks or supermarkets] up or other means is for others to debate.

“The system ought to be geared to help the insurgents and not to protect the insiders.”

It was all about being pro-business, he said.

“We should all be pro-business because it is in all our interests that business succeeds.

“The question is what kind of business do we want to see?”

Whatever Cameron decides to do, Hilton’s comments are bound to ruffle a few feathers in Canary Wharf.


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Readers' comments (4)

  • Anonymous

    We'd all love to know what these top bankers do to justify the telephone number salaries. I'm sure that they would like to convince you that their job is more skilful than a heart surgeon, or more stressful than a firefighter, or perhaps more responsible than the captain of a destroyer.

    But no. The main credential is that you know someone in the club, you have the contacts, you went to the right school. Granted, you'll need a grasp of economics but if you get it wrong you can blame it on the markets, the economy, the weather. And whatever happens, good or bad, you'll get your bonus.

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  • Yeah, right! I've read what he has to say and now I'm scoffing. It will be a cold day in hell before Cameron takes action against the bankers that bankroll the Tories.

    He's much more likely to take action against Steve Hilton, who won't be advising the Tories much longer if he keeps coming up with sensible suggestions and good ideas like this.

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  • Anonymous


    @Anonymous - There are countless professionals across a multitude of industries who also earn “telephone number” salaries – Please kindly refrain from scapegoating our often hardworking bankers and causing further irreparable damage to our financial sector.

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  • Before we can comment on their salaries with any credibility, I think we should know what exactly a "banker" is. Is it the person at the top of a bank, the CEO/COO, who may actually deserve a "telephone number" salary? Or it it the trader or the deal-maker who puts together artificial deals, structured to use taxpayer's money and debt to inflate share prices and make a lot of money into the bargain? Are they also "bankers"? Because my response to the question of whether "bankers" deserve their salaries is, some do and some don't.

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