‘He “Earned” Every Penny’?

28/08/2012

Most of us get a pop-up toaster or a tea maker; if lucky, a slap-up office party. Sir Robert Crichton-Brown left Rothmans shareholders’ meeting £750,000 better off just for saying goodbye. This was on top of a salary last year of almost £300,00, share options worth a reputed £800,000 and a £140,00 contribution to his pension. No wonder that even to the Institute of Directors this seemed a trifle over the top. No doubt there will be those, particularly fellow directors eager to set a precedent, who will defend it by saying how he “earned” every penny. But the personnel manager could well run into trouble when next he meets the trade unions to discuss wage moderation.

Tony Blair MP, The Times, 3 August 1988, p. 10.

The Prime Minister is well into his stride as he couples one of his strongest attacks on boardroom excess with his new fairness agenda. It is “not justifiable”, he says, hitting out at the “casino boom”, “crony capitalism” and a “merry-go-round” that allowed people at the top to “fill their boots”.

In words that would have not sat easily with Conservative leaders of the past, Mr Cameron adds: “The market for top people isn’t working, it needs to be sorted out.

“Let’s empower the shareholders by having a straight, shareholder vote on top pay packages. We’ve got to deal with the merry-go-round where there’s too many cases of remuneration committee members, sitting on each other’s boards, patting each other’s backs, and handing out each other’s pay rises. We need to get to grips with that.”

Mr Cameron is certain that action is needed. “The mood has changed.

“I’ve been struck that you now get the criticism of pay at the top, and of bank bonuses, from a business audience.

“There is a very strong sense that small businessmen and women working hard, grafting away, building a business and not paying themselves huge amount of money, are furious with these rewards at the top for people who aren’t taking the sort of risks they’re having to take.”

Patrick Hennesey interview with Prime Minister David Cameron, The Telegraph, 7 January 2012 (accessed 27 August 2012)

Good to see that the wheels of politics turn so quickly.

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