Britain under Siege

Britain under siege: the bankers of Westminster.

By Dr. Tristan Learoyd

It is apparent to almost everyone outside of the ‘political class’ that banking regulation is needed, so why is it the government is failing to recognise this fact? Furthermore, why, when bankers’ bonuses are so unpopular and the nation is experiencing great hardship, would a government allow a nationalised bank to give away £950m in bonuses despite a £ 1.1bn loss? [1]

The bankers behind the Coalition

More than half of donations to the Conservative Party last year came from the City of London, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.[2] Firms and individuals from finance donated £11.4m in 2010, bringing the total from the City since David Cameron became leader to more than £42m.[2] The bureau said that 57 individuals from the financial sector gave more than £50,000 last year, entitling them to membership of the Conservative Leader’s Club, where you get tea with David Cameron.[2]

The government, naturally, rejects any claims that donors influence policy. However, such claims gather momentum when individual funding streams are followed. In one of the clearest demonstrations of the potential practicalities of funding individual politicians, last year Bloomberg Tradebook Europe made a donation to Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the Treasury Select Committee.[3] Shortly after the spending review, which was taking place around the time of the donation, Tyrie appeared on Bloomberg’s website as a “lawmaker” and used the following terms: “bank of England independence”; “bring the public sector under control”; all three parties, the IMF, world bank and EU “point in the same direction”.[4] Such a position may be Tyrie’s own confused perspective on national finance, alternatively donations could have had a role in his remarks on the website.

The bankers in Whitehall

There are cash donations and then there’s meeting with ministers to push your own agenda. Last year, the industry with the most ministerial meetings was the financial services industry, with 87.[5] But then there’s lobbying from the outside and there’s lobbying from the inside by loaning back office staff to a political party.

In 2009, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) gave non-cash donations worth £344,452 to the Tories, compared with £118,000 to the Labour party and £57,000 to the Liberal Democrats over the same period.[6] A non-cash donation is typically the cost incurred to a firm for lending out staff and project work to a political party. Such a project could be on, say, banking regulation – or lack of – at a time of crisis. In the first year of the crash (2008) PWC generated $28 billion in revenues.[7] It is the world’s largest professional services firm. Notionally, it has a lot to lose through tighter regulation and a lot to gain from promoting laissez fair minimal regulation in the financial sector.

It has also been reported that Britain’s biggest consultancy firms — which include PWC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG — seconded some of their staff to Tory MPs in 2010 as the Conservatives worked toward government and attempted to work out how to cut Britain’s £178 billion budget deficit and decide on a new tax framework.[6] One doubts seconded staff were proposing the return of regulated finance.

Missing what was going on under his nose and probably with one eye on the funds to the Tories, a confused Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, said of PWC’s contributions: “Expert advice is welcome in opposition parties’ policymaking. But the sheer scale of these contributions to the Tories’ private offices risks looking like consultants keeping their foot in the door for contracts.”[6]

It’s more likely that the people who caused the crash are conveniently advising all sides how to get out of recession with minimal impact on the culprit.

The bankers on the benches

The Telegraph reported recently that Britain’s biggest companies are to be paired with ministers, and will be copying bankers.[8]  A statement that could be read in many ways – including bankers pairing themselves with ministers? Bankers don’t need to pair themselves with Coalition MPs – they are the Coalition’s MPs.

During the 2010 election, there a lot was at stake, who would gain power, the Tories, Labour, or the Bankers? The Association of Independent Financial Advisors (AIFA) summed up the final result:

It can only be a positive thing to have a more commercially aware political audience that has worked in the financial services industry…. This will hopefully be a reality check on the reform of regulation…[9]

With British banks in danger of facing a regulatory shake-up, no less than three former directors of Barclays Bank are sitting in Westminster: Stephen Barclay, Andrea Leadsom and Jessie Norman. Apparently, some of the new MPs have already proved ‘crucial’ to David Cameron and George Osborne. [10] However, Gideon has no shortage of allies with financial service links.

There are nearly 100 coalition MPs with connections to the financial service industries through past employment. Here are a few of them, don’t expect banking reforms anytime soon:

Richard Shepherd – Lloyd’s of London; Nigel Mills – PWC; Richard Fuller – Invest Corp; Don Foster – Pannell Kerr Foster; John Baron – Henderson Global Investors/Rothchild Asset Management; David Evennett – Lloyd’s insurance; Nick Gibb – KPMG; Conor Burns – Zurich Advice Network; Brooks Newmark – Apollo Management; Sajid Javid – Deutsche Bank; Andrew Griffiths – Halifax; Julian Brazer – Accenture plc; Jonathan Evans – Eversheds (City of London); Tracy Crouch – Aviva; Greg hands – former City of London trader; Cheryl Gillian – Ernst & Young; Andrew Tyrie – European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Duncan Hames – Deloitte; Douglas Carswell – INVESCO; Claire Perry – Bank of America, Credit Suisse; Hugo Swire – Streets Financial Ltd; Sam Gyimah – Goldman Sachs; Tim Laughton – Fleming Private Asset Management; Chris Huhne – Fitch Ratings; Michael Crockart – Standard Life; Mark Hoban – PWC; Hugh Robertson – Schroders; Michael Freer – Barclays; Mark Harper – KPMG; Bernard Jenkin – Legal & General; Amber Rudd – “major US bank”; John Howell – Ernst & Young; Jesse Norman – Barclays/Policy Exchange; Peter Lilley – W. Greenwell Stockbrokers; Angela Watkinson – WestPac banking Corporation; Francis Maude – Morgan Stanley/Policy Exchange; Jonathan Djanogly – S J Berwin; Philip Hollobone – former investment banker; Karl McCartney – various non-specified roles in the City of London; Nicky Morgan – corporate lawyer; Philip Dunne – S.G. Warburg, Donaldson Luftkin & Jenrette, Pheonix Securities; David Rutley – Halifax, Barclays; Theresa May – Bank of England; John Whittingdale – NM Rothschild; George Hollingbery – Former stockbroker; Nicholas Soames – Lloyd’s Brokers, Sedgwick Group; Iain Stewart – Coopers & Lybrand; Desmond Swayne – RBS; Robert Walter – Aubrey G Lanston & Co Inc; Stephen Barclay – the Enterprise forum; Jacob Rees-Mogg – Somerset Capital Management; Bill Wiggin – Commerzbank; George Young – Hill Samuel; Chloe Smith – Deloitte; James Brokenshire – Corporate advisor inc. Standard Bank London; Stephen Crabb – London Chamber of Commerce; Richard Graham – Barings Asset Management; Justine Greening – PWC; James Duddridge – Barclays; Andrew Rosindel – European Foundation; Nick Hurd – non-specified British Bank; Philip Hammond – World Bank; John Glen – World Economic Forum; Mark Reckless – Bearings and Warburg bank; Jo Johnson – Deutsche Bank; Heather Wheeler – City of London; Richard working – worked in investment banking; Andrea Leadsom – Barclays; Tim Yeo – Bankers Trust Company; Elizabeth Truss – Reform; Davis Amess – Accountancy Group; Kwasi Kwarteng – Odey Asset Management; Karen Bradley – KPMG; Stephen McPartland – British American Business; Andrew Mitchell – Lazard; Jeremy Browne – Dewe Rogerson; Jackie Doyle-Price – City of London; Alun Cairns – Lloyds; David Mowat – Accenture; Matthew Hancock – Bank of England; Harriet Baldwin – JP Morgan Chase; Jon Penrose – JP Morgan/Bow Group; Stephen Hammond – Commerzbank Securities; John Redwood – N H Rothschild; Robin Walker – Finsbury Group; Steve Baker – Lehman brothers; Mark Garnier – Fund manager, CharterHouse; David Laws – JP Morgan.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/24/rbs-bankers-bonuses-despite-loss Accessed 03/06/11

[2] http://thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/05/24/tory-party-funding/ Accessed 03/06/11

[3] http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/uk-general-election-donations-and-borrowings

Accessed 31/05/11

[4] http://www.bloomberg.com/video/63866272/ Accessed 03/06/11

[5] http://whoslobbying.com/ Accessed 03/06/11

[6] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7025819.ece Accessed 03/06/11

[7] http://bigfouralumni.blogspot.com/2008/10/pricewaterhousecoopers-2008-revenue-up.html Accessed 03/06/11

[8] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/yourbusiness/8314364/Government-ministers-copy-bankers-to-boost-UK-trade.html Accessed 03/06/11

[9] http://www.aifa.net/news/blog-post.php?post_id=209 Accessed 03/06/11

[10] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/7707352/General-Election-2010-bankers-become-MPs-in-new-Parliament.html Accessed 03/06/11

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