Monday, 9 February 2009


Bonuses for bankers have been hitting the headlines this week, and as the son of a banker I feel I've got something to say on this. Barclays are expected to pay out over £600m in bonuses whereas £1bn is going to be given by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable [right] said: "The government must freeze all bonus payments for employees of semi-nationalised banks and ensure that the pay details of those earning over £100,000 a year are published." He's right. Barclays can do what they like, as normal tax payers own nothing of the bank - but RBS are now effectively owned by everyone, so it's not right that a bank that underperformed so badly in 2008 should still pay out extremely high sums to those who caused the problems in the first place.

But there are some employees who actually made money for RBS by trading well in the stock markets and currency exchanges, so there is some argument that they should be rewarded for their good efforts. In the recent BBC2 show Million Dollar Traders, where eight amateurs were shown how to make profits from share trading, some of them did very well and showed it wasn't that hard to succeed. But it's easy to lose lots of money on the markets, and I feel sorry for those RBS employees and customers who put faith in their bank by investing in its shares, and are now faced with a 90%-plus loss. It's the fault of RBS employees themselves to some extend, regardless of exposure to American sub-prime debt, that their bank is failing - so they should take some responsibility.

So if the bank is part-owned by the taxpayer, employees should only get bonuses if they performed well, as that is effectively the taxpayer rewarding them for good work. If the bank is not state-owned in any form, then they can pay whatever bonuses they want, as there is less accountability in that they don't have to report to every single person paying tax. Plus there's no need for victimisation of bankers, as although many working-class northerners might be laughing at the collapse of the south's industry; that's exactly what happened to the mines in the 1980s. They didn't recover. Banks will, eventually...


And now for something completely different. It's National Chip Week at the moment, which should be seen as a great excuse to visit your local chippy. There's an exceptionally good late-night takeaway in Sheffield called the Broomhill Friary [right] - it's Sean Bean's favourite fish and chip shop in the world (although his nephew Dan runs it, so he does have a vested interest!). See: for more. I often visit it after a night out, and can sometimes find myself dreaming about the wonderful greasy meals they offer - but the BBC has reported that the smells which attract me to this wonderful food are: butterscotch, cocoa, onion, flowers, cheese and ironing boards. Now that is random. But who cares when they taste great?


It's been a tumultuous day in the Premier League, with Chelsea sacking Luiz Felipe Scolari and Portsmouth letting go of Tony Adams. Clearly the two major factors behind this were Southend taking Scolari's boys to a replay, soon after Adams had let midfielder Jean-Francois Christophe join the Shrimpers! It all goes to show that everything comes back to Southend United Football Club - the only world football club holding a 100% record against Manchester United, the record-holders of the fewest draws in a Football League season (three) and the fastest-ever debut goal (Freddy Eastwood in seven seconds). My beloved Shrimpers, you are my true love, as I give up Valentine's Day this weekend to watch you play Tranmere Rovers...