Thursday, August 07, 2008

View from the top updated....................with a little help from Polly Toynbee!

Having spent most of my working life in drafty decrepit youth centres and on badly lit street corners (as a detached youth worker I hasten to add!)............the grandeur of Canary Wharf never ceases to amaze me. Cheek by jowl with some of the most deprived areas in the country, this fantasy city looms out of the mist (aka smog)..........a private estate, squeaky clean, towering metallic structures housing a virtual small town of 70,000 plus people. The virtually relocated "city" doesn't on the surface appear to have suffered due to the credit crunch. The classy jeweller still sells pieces for £1000's, the caviar bar is still packed, more and more posh shops are opening, rather like The Truman Show, everything seems just a little unreal. Yesterday I had a meeting at Barclays, where their meeting rooms on the 30th floor have stunning views (sadly it was raining so the pic isn't that good), set amongst all the other towers, HSBC, Citigroup, Bank of America..........the list goes on. Here, in the heart of the "city" the place where many of the decisions that have lead to our current problems are taken, the lack of connection with the reality of people's lives is palpable. The fact that for the past few years the only politician warning of our present reality is Vince Cable is something we should be very proud of. It is a fact that the media had often gone to Vince for a comment rather than George Osborne (who he?!). Let's hope that it isn't just the Tories that get the message that they don't have the competence to deal with the economy, but the country at large. However badly Darling is doing, I fear our present problems would look like a walk in the park if Mr O ever took over as Chancellor.

Since penning this piece my pal Martin alerted me to this article by Polly Toynbee which says what I was trying to far more eloquently!

"Focus groups with the super-rich, most of them in the top 0.1% of earners, commissioned for a book I have co-written with David Walker, threw up more questions than answers. How did these people succeed in setting their own terms with government? They were ignorant about the society they live in and indifferent to any but their own kind, and it is now plain that their own financial incentives encouraged wild risk-taking in banks and funds. Alan Sugar-style brutishness rules the roost, though most of these yahoos are not entrepreneurs at all, but market followers who receive their bonuses irrespective of whether results are good or bad.

Adept at frightening the Treasury, they fight even modest attempts at curbing tax avoidance or taxing non-doms, and the Treasury often retreats. Questions will be asked about who ruled Britain in this decade, just as in the worst days of over-mighty trade unions."

1 comment:

Alasdair W said...

I like the perspective. It does seem like an unreal World. And to think our economic security lies in the hands of the people at the top. Yet when things go bad, it's the ordinary people that suffer and the rich executives get big bonuses.