Monday, November 13, 2006

Hain courts Labour left

Peter Hain is obviously seeking Labour left support for his deputy leadership bid, if his remarks on executive pay and ‘grotesque’ City bonuses are anything to go by.

Here’s how the Financial Times summarises what he had to say in a couple of television interviews yesterday:

‘Mr Hain yesterday called for a debate between government and the City and business about high remuneration levels. Pay levels for top executives that are hundreds of times the average earnings within their companies "do not create a climate of social responsibility", he told ITV.

‘City bonus levels also came under fire. In a separate interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Hain warned that: "Most people find it pretty grotesque that a couple of dozen City executives can share a billion pounds of bonuses between them."

‘But he eschewed calls for statutory curbs on pay, saying: "We live in a globalised economy and the City is hugely successful … I don't think higher taxation or massive regulation or caps on salaries are sensible."’

It’s a message that could be boiled down into two sentences. Shocking, innit? Just don’t expect New Labour to do anything about it.

I used to know Peter reasonably well. When I quit the Labour Party in 1995, he even rang me up and tried to talk me out of it.

So I know that – at least then – he regarded himself as a man of the left. That just makes his pretence of a sudden rediscovery of basic democratic socialist principles just in time for a deputy leadership campaign all the more opportunistic.

Sadly for Hain, the bookies still rate him third favourite, behind Johnson and Benn.

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