LORD Oakeshott is the senior Liberal Democrat who quit their front bench in protest at the Tory-LibDem coalition’s decision to allow the bankers to opt out of any hint of austerity, and to award themselves billions of pounds of bonuses.
He spoke for the Lib Dems on Treasury matters in the House of Lords.
He has blasted the ‘commitment’ by the Big Four banks in the so-called Project Merlin negotiations to increase lending to small and medium businesses, saying ‘That is not a commitment at all. That’s a weak, waffly gross lending aspiration with vast wriggle room. There’s no commitment there.’
His verdict on the capacity of the Treasury team is: ‘They’ve got an awful combination of arrogance and incompetence . . . most of them couldn’t negotiate themselves out of a paper bag.’
He pointed the finger at Tory leader Cameron for a ‘very soft deal’ for the banks.
He said the ‘settlement’ with the banks would not stop multi-billion pound bonuses being paid – including to the bosses of taxpayer-funded companies. Speaking yesterday, on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said that banks had tied the government in knots and come out with a ‘soft deal’. He said: ‘The problem with this deal is that it sent out all the wrong messages, particularly from David Cameron but also the Treasury, that we had to do a deal with them. and I can tell you the only way you do a good deal with banks is if they don’t think you’ve got to do a deal.’
He continued that the bonuses announced on Wednesday for Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, and Eric Daniels, the outgoing chief executive of Lloyds, as ‘extraordinarily wrong’. Daniels is to be paid a £1.45m bonus on top of his salary of £1m, and Hester £2.04m. Both banks are supported by the taxpayer.
The Barclays boss, Diamond, will now collect a bonus of at least £8m and Stuart Gulliver, of HSBC, at least £9m. This is while the working class and the middle class are being put on the wrack by the same coalition government.
But Cameron is not just the darling of the bankers.
For some time in the EU parliament the Tories have been part of a bloc of ultra-right wing parties, some of which have been described for some time as neo-fascist. The Tories have been much criticised for this position but have refused to quit the bloc.
Yesterday their policy bore fruit when Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s fascist National Front, praised David Cameron’s ‘muscular liberal’ approach to the Muslims.
Ms Le Pen argued that the Cameron speech marked a significant rightward shift across Europe, saying: ‘It is exactly this type of statement that has barred us from public life for 30 years.’
She added: ‘I sense an evolution at European level, even in classic governments. I can only congratulate him.’ The leader of the coalition is now the darling of both the bankers and the French fascists.
She will no doubt give her full support for his statements that he is willing to bring in additional anti-union laws to prevent trade unions fighting his savage cuts policy, and that a general strike will be illegal.
No doubt Tory statements that they intend to abolish collective bargaining in the NHS and education will also win her admiration. The National Front may well invite him to address some of their rallies.
Cameron is not a fascist. He is a right-wing Tory whose determination to anglicise the Muslims and smash the unions and the middle class in favour of the bankers is driving him rightwards.
The fact that Le Pen can greet him as some sort of convert must serve to redouble the determination of the workers movement, to change the leaders of the trade unions, and take the coalition on head-on in a general strike to bring it down, and bring in a workers government.
Such a government will carry out socialist policies and serve notice on movements like the French National Front that their end is nigh.