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Dirty rotten scoundrels.

Byline: Jason Cowley

EVER get the feeling you've been cheated? These were the words Johnny Rotten snarled at his audience as he quit as frontman of the Sex Pistols live on stage at the end of an infamous gig.

Today the same question could be asked of the Government as the bankers prepare once more to receive millions of pounds in bonuses. As benefits are squeezed, wages fall and prices and unemployment rise, the bankers luxuriate in greed.

Before the general election, David Cameron said the reckless bankers would face "a day of reckoning". Hollow words.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has spoken repeatedly of how the bankers "have not got the message". He promised action to combat their excesses. Nothing substantive has happened.

'Before that, when the coalition agreement was drawn up in May, there was an explicit promise to take "robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector". Empty promises indeed.

The touted tax on bankers' bonus pools has not been introduced. A Tobin, or so-called Robin Hood tax on financial transactions remains merely the dream of former PM Gordon Brown. Widespread structural reform of the banking system, such as separating high street from investment or "casino" banking, is not even close.

Meanwhile, the bankers reward each other with multi-million bonuses for their grotesque failures. What shall we buy today? they ask. A new Porsche or a holiday villa in Barbados?

The bankers may have brought the world financial system to the edge of total collapse, but they continue in the knowledge that they have a taxpayer guarantee if they foul up again.

They know that the banks were deemed "too big to fail", that their risk-taking will be underwritten by us poor saps, the taxpayer.

And let's not forget how adept the super-rich are at avoiding tax altogether. Small wonder that so many of us have bailout rage.

The coalition Government likes to blame Labour for the mess we're in. That is fundamentally dishonest, and they know it.

New Labour made mistakes. Property prices rose uncontrollably on their watch. Credit during the boom years was too easy. Everyone was being encouraged to live beyond their means. Debt replaced wages as the engine of economic growth. But Labour cannot be blamed for the world financial crisis.

The blame alone lies with the bankers.

So what should happen next? It's not simply enough for Chancellor George Osborne to call on the bankers to show "restraint". These people don't know the meaning of the word. Gambling with our bank deposits is how they get their thrills.

No, the Government must impose restraint by, at the very least, taxing bonus pools and then clamping down on tax avoidance. For now, this seems a remote possibility.

Before the election, Vince Cable accused Osborne and the Tories of wanting to "get their noses in the trough and reward their rich backers". Well, at present, their noses are well and truly in the trough. And the bankers are getting away with it again. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

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Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten... and how 'casino bankers' have lived it up
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2011
Words:522
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