Cable attacks banks

Posted by Allan McLachlan

Business secretary launches broadside against "spivs and gamblers" who have done more to ruin Britain than Bob Crow and all his Trotskyite fantasies

Vince Cable

Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a searing attack on excessive bank bonuses paid to "spivs and gamblers".

In his speech to the Lib Dem conference today, the business secretary called for action to stop monopoly capitalism "killing competition".

Mr Cable insisted that he was pro-business and attributed his confrontational speech to pioneering free-market economist Adam Smith.

He said: "I make no apology for attacking spivs and gamblers who did more harm to the British economy than Bob Crow could achieve in his wildest Trotskyite fantasies, while paying themselves outrageous bonuses underwritten by the taxpayer. There is much public anger about banks and it is well deserved.

"But I am not seeking retribution. We have a pressing practical problem: the lack of capital for sound, non property, business. Many firms say they are already being crippled by banks’ charges and restrictions.

"The Chancellor and I have set out a range of sticks and carrots to get banks to support the real economy. Tough interventions will be needed if capital which could be used to support business lending is frittered away in bonuses and dividends.

"The Coalition Agreement was crystal clear, too, that the structure of banking must be reformed to prevent future disasters and promote competition. Our agenda can be summed in seven words: make them safe and make them lend. I agree with Mervyn. We just can’t risk having banks that are too big to fail.

The business secretary, who confirmed last month that he intended to sell off Royal Mail, also said that staff would be given 10% of shares in any future flotation of the company. This would represent the largest employee share scheme for 25 years.

Downing Street said it was "relaxed" about Mr Cable's comments.

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