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

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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.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/scottish-independence-blog/2013/apr/19/vitol-bettertogether-labour-scotland

  6. artbyrichy

    Yes, one that doesn’t make the poor poorer on the ‘recovery’ side.

  7. Stephen Smith

    If it wasn’t April the First I’d think you were serious, rather than a poorly re-hashed Daily Mail editorial with as many cliches as possible crammed in. You missed out ‘the politics of envy’ and ‘Britain is being swamped by immigrants’ but you pretty much nailed it otherwise..

  8. TN

    Actually I don’t think immigrants are a problem.
    Extorting British business is not so much “the politics of envy”, but is extremely naive and a sure fire way to deter the investment that we need. Also what happened to Ed Balls’ pledge to keep corporation tax at one of the lowest rates in the G7? I’m certain he said that last summer in a speech. Labour ought to match or better the Tories in a pledge. Screw what those on the left have to say, if it was up to them we’d be a begging bowl economy.

    It says a lot that a few of these bosses were Labour supporters a decade ago. Pretty sure even Duncan Bannatyne back Gordon Brown at the last election, which says a lot about Miliband. Again, I’m no massive fan of Tony Blair, but he knew that antagonising business was a recipe for disaster. Ed Miliband is trying to walk this impossible tight rope between what the unions expect and pontificating about what businesses should be doing. It has gained little fanfare with anyone.

  9. Stephen Smith

    And even after Labour makes the change, corporation tax will still be the lowest in the G7 – it’s just that it’s never enough for these people. ‘Business’, or more accurately those who own and control businesses, will always resist wage increases, taxes and anything which impinges on their profitability. It’s what they do.
    Faced with that. a Labour government can either try to appease them, or attempt to make them realise they are a part of, and not the only part of, a functioning cohesive society. That means paying taxes and providing more than the lowest wage possible for the highest amount of profit.

  10. David Lindsay

    Well, quite. If you don’t pay tax on your vast income and wealth, then you are unlikely ever to feel the pinch.

    Britain is mostly a land of SMEs where the private sector is concerned. Big businesses depend on them, and both depend on the public sector.

    But one category finds it far easier than the other category does to avoid paying for that sector.

    I would just ignore these 100. They are kind of people, if they are not the actual individuals, whom Tony Blair used to hold in awe. That speaks for itself.

  11. sarntcrip

    IF YOU ADD TO THEM THE 6 FIG SALARIES AND MORE OWNED BY TV PRESENTERS,POLITICAL EDITORS AND SENIOR JOURNALISTS YOU START TO SEE WHY90%OF THE MEDIA SLANTS POLITICAL/ELECTORAL COVERAGE TOWARDS THOSE LIKELY TO TAXTHE RICH LEAST THE TORIES ANY NON TORY PARTY HAS A SHEER ROCK FACE TO CLIMB AS MEDIA LOOK TO PROTECT THEIR TOP 1% EARNINGSANY TORY WOULD HAVE TO ME MIGHTY INCOMPETENT NOT TO WIN A MAJORITY YESI KNOW CAMERON DIDN’T REST MY CASE

  12. sarntcrip

    COWARDLY TORIES WON’T REVEAL THEIR PLANS TO HIT THE VULNERABLE YET AGAIN
    BECAUSE THEY KNOW PEOPLE WILL KICK THEM OUT RIGHTLY SO

  13. sarntcrip

    unlike the tories who are blatantly corrupt

  14. sarntcrip

    BUSINESS BACKING TORIES IS THE WEALTHY BACKING THEIR OWN AS THE WEALTHY MEDIA OWNERS PRESENTERS AND EDITORS DO ALLNON 6 FIG SALARIES +THEY HAVE IT ALL SOWN UP MEDIA MOGULS SET THE AGENDA IN THEIR OWN INTERESTS THEN BACK IT TO THE HILTNO DEMOCRACY THE WHOLE PANTOMIME IS SOWN UP BY THE WEALTHY FOR THE WEALTHY MAE MYSELF GREED MERCHANTS, IT’S SICKENING UN BRITISH, UN CHRISTIAN, INDECENT AND WRONG PEOPLE POWER WORKS THEY WILL RISE NOT TODAY BUT IT’S COMING AND WON’T BE PRETTY WATCH OUT MAYFAIR WATCH OUT BELGRAVIA THE COMMUNITIES OF THE INFLUENTIAL WON’T ALWAYS BE SAFE HAVENS

  15. Cole

    Actually, Taylor is a major donor to the Conservatives.

  16. The Bard of Holderness

    Seems to me its a recovery totally built on…..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FvzSFm1D_o

  17. Jim Bennett

    Indeed. And that makes Labour’s shameful behaviour in brokering Taylor’s funding of Labour’s campaign against Scottish independence even more sickening. Condemn big business one day, take their 30 pieces of silver the next. Labour is in the pocket of big business – sickening hypocrites.

  18. historyrepeats

    time we boycotted these parasites- tories want to start sanctioning people who work part time or zero hour contracts now, if they don’t find a full time job within 6 months. If they get in again(or ukip) they will abolish the human rights act – and make laws that only work for the rich. We are pretty much there already

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    You seem confused. Where was Labour, a right wing party, mentioned?

  20. Guest

    Oh right, now it’s “shameful” to have morals. Sickening, even. Hypocritical.

    Thanks for your SNP morals manifesto.

  21. Leon Wolfeson

    Quite. The jobs simply are not there – it leads to a feeding frenzy where people are turned on each other literally can’t afford to use their rights or they’ll be punished.

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    They have. People are still voting for them – it’s a type of stockholm syndrome for some, sadly.

  23. Nigel de Gruchy

    What’s all this rubbish about Labour attacking business?
    It was business attacking Labour.

  24. Faerieson

    You shout your prescribed opinions so loudly, it’s almost as if you’re trying to convince yourself.

    What Blair shamefully did was to broker the support of Murdoch. A far more divided UK was one of the sorry consequences, and in this lurch to the right some of us appear to have forgotten how to think independently. Your ‘logic’ is transcribed wholesale, as if from Mr Murdoch’s very own mouth.

    Oh, and don’t forget to take a swipe at the Public Sector, will you? Now, rest that weary brain, why don’t you? Take care not to hypocritically avail yourself of the services of the NHS.

  25. Jack

    That’s a naive statement; I’m guessing you’re quite young.

    Although most people claim to care about ‘the poor’, very few actually give up significant time or money to help poor people beyond buying the Big Issue occasionally. They’re too busy getting on with their careers, raising families, and getting on with their lives. That’s most people. Whether it should be or not is another matter. But they’re not all broken up about the unemployed in Middlesbrough and they’re not going to switch political parties based upon that. The only people to whom it’s really an issue are kids and socialist worker types. But those people don’t decide elections.

  26. Mr Milward

    I’m waiting for 100 top business leaders to say how outrageous it is that the number of food banks has increased, or bemoan the fact that so many small charities have had their funding cease because of the financial squeeze on local authorities’ budgets.

  27. Sarcastaballs

    Of course all of these people basically fell off an apple cart and got 15m a year a salaries handed to them because they voted Tory, none of them will have evidenced the competency to run multi billion dollar businesses effectively through years of hard work, and they should be paid as much as me whilst I sit in my bedroom farting and eating cornflakes. Their understanding of the complex effects of market confidence on our bond markets and our government purse and the benefits and public spending tied to it will be inferior to mine by many many leagues. My own personal failures in life are the sole responsibility of whichever set of demons news international has painted for me over the last week and are in no way based on my life choices.

  28. Mike Stallard

    Look at the pictures above.
    Are you not inspiring racial hatred? I wonder if that is acceptable?

  29. Leon Wolfeson

    And the people who actually have communities, and live in them. Who have been disenfranchised by Labour’s move right. But hey, details.

    FPTP is the problem.

  30. Leon Wolfeson

    And there you have a wild attack.

    Politics is not a protected category, of course.

    Your political views have no special protection from being insults, as much as you’d like it.

  31. Guest

    Yea, those evil life choices like not be born to the right family.

  32. Guest

    “Wealth creators”

    No, leeches who routinely destroy British jobs, pay starvation wages, slurp up
    corporate welfare and lobby to change the law so they can pay even less – benefiting from things like unpaid “workfare” slave labour.

    The “recovery” is purely in the city, for the leeches like you. You ignore deflation, ignore the bubble, ignore the nearly flat hours worked, ignore poverty…well no, actually you’ve rejoiced in raising poverty.

    You’d rather listen only to your Class. As you deny Britain has fiat currency, while attacking those evil nurses and teachers. Oh, and non-scam pensions.

  33. Guest

    It could be raised and still be one of the lowest. But facts.

    Labour’s moved right, it’s just that the Tories are offering even more for them and less for the peons. You’re fine with the poor having to beg, as you say that America for instance is a “begging bowl”, since they did exactly what Labour were doing before the coalition put an emergency halt to the recover and had us a depression.

    But facts,

  34. Leon Wolfeson

    You want to damp down the cycles, not amplify them wildly. Moreover, you want to ensure that the low paid are not the ones who keep losing out, even on the upswing!

  35. Leon Wolfeson

    Or drive on a road, or…

  36. Keith M

    Bit of an own goal for the Tories. I shall personally boycott their businesses.

  37. blarg1987

    Add to that, makes you wonder how many CEO’s of PLC’s achieved there targets last year and got a bonus not because they are the best at what they do but because of government policy to cut corporation tax.

  38. blarg1987

    yet if you go further back to say 1945 to the late 1960’s we did have a level of responsible capitalism.That is the society I thin most people want us to go back to, where we had long term secure employment, rising living standards, and paying of our debts after the second world war as well as being a major world leader in science and technology.

    The recovery that we are having is in effect paid for by taxpayers, it is not industries taking risk and being rewarded with profit but the taxpayer being burden with all the liabilities.

    A Labour government can win industry by saying they have two choices, a little bit of something or sod all of nothing. To begin with industry will of course chuck its toys out the pram, however when the reality comes home, and they start to loose large amounts of money, they will concede it is better form them to accept lower profit margins and make some money then make no money at all.

  39. Leon Wolfeson

    No, we had a free market relatively unencumbered by capitalism – not quite the same thing!

    And yes, it’s where we need to go back to, where the rich pay a fair whack and private business rises and falls on it’s merits, not government subsidies.

  40. Cole

    What are you on about? Labour is not an anti-business party. But it’s quite right to point out that the corporate types backing the Tories are just self interested fatcats who don’t want to pay more tax.

  41. sam

    LOOK AT THAT !!! Leon, playing nice in the sandbox. Well done Leon. Anger management classes?

  42. Leon Wolfeson

    Keep attacking me, Lord Blagger. I’m not paying for your fake “classes”, get over it. You’re here to **** in the thread because it’s what you do.

  43. Kathryn

    We’re not beholden to the cycles we created. You talk as if they exist in a vacuum.

  44. markmhayward

    Whats wrong with being paid alot? I see it as something to aspire to not something to criticise, well done them for getting well paid jobs.

  45. Robert Roberts

    Why should they pay more tax? I can understand being irate about tax avoidance/evasion, but simply demanding more and more from them is just petty jealousy/self-interest.

  46. Bob Roberts

    Then why should religious ones (specifically Islamic) get protection instead then, as Labour seems to advocate?

  47. Robert Roberts

    Because Labour are attacking them back – corporation tax rises, top income rate rise, price controls, arbitrary labour market regulation.

  48. Robert Roberts

    Most on the right support private businesses succeeding on their merits rather than propped up by government. And what constitutes “fair whack” for the rich is very much open to debate.

  49. Leon Wolfeson

    So you want to be able to discriminate against Islam, because your politics are not protected?

    Labour is not “advocating” anything, it’s the law of the land that religion is a protected characteristic. And that’s fine.

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