Top Lib Dem: Bankers’ bonuses are “moment of truth for coalition”

Lord Oakeshott raised the bar on bankers' bonuses last night. He promised strong action and reiterated Nick Clegg's words that the Lib Dems "won't stand idly by" on bank payouts.

Senior Liberal Democrat Lord Oakeshott raised the bar on bankers’ bonuses last night by promising strong action and reiterating Nick Clegg’s words that the Lib Dems “won’t stand idly by” on bank payouts.

Speaking on Newsnight, the Lib Dem peer and Treasury spokesman said:

“This is a real moment of truth for the coalition on fairness. We can’t have a bonus bonanza in the age of austerity.”

Earlier the programme showed a clip of John Mann asking Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays:

“on how many occasions have the PM and chancellor met with you personally, looked you in the eye, and asked you to show restraint on the size of your bonus.”

The surprising answer by Mr Diamond: “They have not”. Despite the Conservative party’s tough rhetoric on bankers’ bonuses the reality is hardly surprising. As Next Left reminds us, two years ago David Cameron told a group of bankers including Bob Diamond that the City was in his blood:

“My father was a stockbroker, my grandfather was a stockbroker, my great-grandfather was a stockbroker.”

But Lord Oakeshott, a close ally of Vince Cable, insisted that a conversation had taken place in recent weeks between Vince Cable and Bob Diamond which “can only be described as an arid discussion … there was very little meeting of minds”. The Daily Express’ Chief Political Commentator Patrick O’Flynn was quick to spot the political significance of the exchange by tweeting:

“Oakeshott on Newsnight dynamite on bankers, will be consequences tomorrow. So outspoken with hints of Cable briefing … now Cable must back it up with action or look like a total tool.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.