Comment: Sorry, George, but public back EC

Martin Flanagan
Martin Flanagan
Share this article
Have your say

GEORGE OSBORNE has his work cut out trying to water down the banker bonus curbs being introduced by the European Commission.

The elephant in the banking remuneration room is that the British public doesn’t have any problem with what the EC is proposing. To many people, Brussels is showing measured commonsense.

And they don’t see anything onerous about bonuses being limited under the EC’s plans to the size of what are already very generous base salaries.

Under the new rules, shareholders in banks would have the ability to double that cap to make the bonus twice basic salary.

So in short, the EC’s proposals are hardly an apocalyptic attack on the banking industry.

It is also not a case of the Chancellor being undone by qualified majority voting in Brussels. No other country has lined up alongside Britain in its hostility to the proposed cap. It has not been a closely-fought vote; Britain looks marginalised.

It has reduced Osborne to fiddling at the margins on how the plans would be implemented technically to see if there is some wiggle-room and face-saving formula for the British government to scrape back something for the City of London.

A silent-flowing rubicon may have been crossed in the 27-member European Union – a gathering view among other countries that Britain has become increasingly ambivalent about its whole participation in the wider European project; that its hectoring is annoying and its special pleading tiresome.

Many in Britain believe the UK government was right to oppose the EC Tobin tax on financial transactions, believing that it was skewed against the City’s and the UK economy’s interests.

But protecting banker bonuses has been a bridge too far…

Macfarlane wraps up an online packaging profit

THEY say progress these days is measured by how well a company adapts to the online world, writes Terry Murden.

Long-established Glasgow packaging company Macfarlane Group is keeping up with the times by targeting the fast-growing internet retail sector which helped it post a 27 per cent increase in pre-tax profits.

There has also been activity in the boardroom which has been freshened up by new chairman Graeme Bissett.

After hiring two non-exec directors shortly after taking the helm last year, he concluded his reshaping yesterday with the appointment of packaging industry veteran Bob McLellan.

Shares in the company have been tightly held but a bit of investor interest has seen them rise 24 per cent over 52 weeks.