REVEALED: The fat cat pay packets of the Tory-supporting bosses

A glance at the wealth of some of the signatories makes it hard to believe they care about ordinary people


How much weight the public attach to the letter by big business leaders supporting Conservative economic policy depends on whether people think the business leaders in question are motivated by altruism or self-interest.

A quick glance at the incredible wealth of some of the signatories, and the pay policies of their companies, makes it very difficult to believe they are concerned about the lives of ordinary people.

Pay details of selected FTSE 100 CEOs who signed the letter, and are compelled to disclose their pay in their companies’ annual reports, are as follows:

  • Prudential CEO Tidjane Thiam was paid £11.8 million in 2014, up from a mere £8.7 million in 2013. In 2010, he struggled by on just £5.3 million, so people might not find it surprising that he thinks things have got better under the Coalition
  • Andy Harrison, the CEO of Whitbread, which owns the Costa Coffee chain amongst other restaurant brands, was paid £6.3 million, over 400 times as much as his average employee. Again, CEO pay at Whitbread has increased from just £2.6 million in 2010
  • George Weston, the chief executive of Primark owners Associated British Foods got a £5 million incentive payment last year, on top of a salary of around £1 million plus various other bonuses. His total pay added up to over £7 million, roughly 500 times as much as his average employee. Primark has been criticised for its refusal to pay ordinary workers the living wage
  • Despite falling oil prices, BP could still afford to pay Bob Dudley around £9.4 million last year, up from about £8.8 million in 2013, though Aidan Heavey of Tullow Oil wasn’t so lucky – his company’s plummeting share price reduced his pay to just £2.4 million, compared to £2.8 million the previous year.
  • In his final full year at Diageo, Paul Walsh was paid £15.6 million. Mr Walsh has previously argued that higher taxes on the rich make it harder for the UK to attract and retain top talent. Cynics might wonder if there was anyone in particular he had in mind.

These pay packages do not necessarily invalidate the opinions of the CEOs (though we should be wary of crediting them with the wisdom of Solomon) or have any bearing on whether they are right or wrong about Labour and Tory economic policies.

But such vulgar sums of money do make it easier for critics to argue that the letter’s authors are a bunch of self-serving racketeers concerned only with preserving an economic system that facilitates their own enrichment, rather than public-spirited entrepreneurs who genuinely want what’s best for the country.

Many sensible businesspeople have argued that the culture of executive greed – and the public contempt that it engenders – threatens the long-term sustainability of a capitalist system. The damage that such colossal pay packages do to the credibility of the authors of this letter is a very good case in point.

Luke Hildyard is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

54 Responses to “REVEALED: The fat cat pay packets of the Tory-supporting bosses”

  1. TN

    Can’t handle the fact that Labour are well and truly screwed when it comes to winning over business voices. I’m not the biggest fan of Blair, but at least he understood them and that is why Labour 10 years ago routinely won business support. Columns on here want to parrot Labour’s business lines when it comes to the EU or if they make platitudes about small businesses. Now you jump on the Twitter bandwagon attacking an open letter to the Telegraph, because a number of Britain’s wealth creators are warning about Labour’s profligacy and tax hikes.

    Fact is that there is a recovery going on and people are recognising that. Lefties and public sector unions think it’s “the wrong type of recovery”, lol! Ed Miliband has been getting this wrong ever since he started trying to sanctimoniously go after “predatory” capitalists and distinguishing them from a “responsible” vision. How much support has he won for that, aside from a few columns on here or by the likes of Polly Toynbee?

    Sorry, I’d rather listen to these signatories over the likes of Len McCluskey or Frances O’Grady whose ideas would drag us back to the 1970s. The magic money tree and “public sector jobs 4 life” are what the left want more than anything.

  2. Sense

    Interesting to read that the letter only mentions one Tory policy, but not the other benefits these businesses receive at the expanse of workers and taxpayers:

    Free labour via Workfare/Work Programmes
    Zero hours contracts,
    Employment tribunals only open to those that can afford them
    Lacklustre efforts to remove tax loopholes / avoidance
    Dodgy HMRC deals cutting tax liability
    Taxpayers footing the bill for their low wages – Housing benefit/Working Tax Credits etc…

  3. Kathryn

    But Blair trying to court businesses ultimately led to how deeply we were affected by the crash. If we’d pushed for more financial regulation or accountability sooner we’d have been in a much better position.

    You can’t have it both ways, unfortunately.

    Continue to pursue good old fashioned capitalist economic recovery and we’ll be stuck in an infinite boom/bust cycle.

  4. David Paxton

    Sorry, you have a form of economics that defies business cycles? Do tell.

  5. Jim Bennett

    Goodness, you Labourites have very short memories! Last year, while working hand in hand with the Tories, Labour brokered a deal for Ian Taylor of Vitol to donate very large sums to the no campaign.

    Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, had had a series of controversial deals with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, an Iranian oil shipment, the Serbian warlord Arkan and Libyan rebels.

    After the Iraq deal, Vitol was one of a number of oil firms fined for breaching UN sanctions: it was accused by a New York court of paying $13m in kickbacks to the Iraqi state oil company. You are a bunch of hypocrites.

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