Hooray for Myners and Turner
It’s rather striking that the two most effective critics of the finance establishment are poachers turned gamekeepers.
When Paul Myners became a minister we got the usual Gordon crony accusations, and much doubt that someone who had worked in finance would be tough enough.
But while his technical skill has no doubt been useful, his biggest contribution has been the thinking set out in a series of extremely interesting speeches (carefully tracked by Tom P over at the excellent Labour and Capital). His suggestion that companies should reveal their top 20 salaries is only the most recent.
His views on foreign ownership are important too. This is one of those debates that is too often polarised in the UK. Either you are sensible and support our extraordinarily relaxed view of ownership or a protectionist little Englander opposed to foreigners who probably votes for the BNP.
But there is quite a big space between these two extremes. Most other countries manage to fit somewhere along it where they take more interest in ownership, without being protectionist. In contrast we seem to be at one end of the spectrum with North Korea at the opposite.
But Adair Turner is probably even more of a hate figure in the Square Mile – and was heckled at his Mansion House speech. Apparently there is a suggestion that he was wearing a clip-on bow-tie. (Normal people may need to know that this is a very rude thing to say about someone in the City.)
One of new Labour’s watchwords has been never to criticise business. That may have been understandable electoral politics in the 1990s, but has sometimes left it reluctant to state the obvious in the wake of the crash. It seems to have left the job to city insiders such as Turner and Myners.