Stephen Hester has highlighted conservative discord

January 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Stephen Hester’s late night decision to forgo his £1 million bonus has not only spared him a difficult and unpopular future, but it has also highlight precisely how out of tune the Conservatives are with the British public and politicians internationally.

Since the news broke of Hester’s bonus, a procession of Tories have made half-hearted attempts at defending him, in particular by dragging out the government’s long dead horse ‘our hands are tired by the previous government.’

Though the conservatives didn’t seem willing, it was clear that Cameron would have made attempts to defend Hester to the Commons if Ed Miliband got his vote in parliament.

Whatever you feel about bonuses, the government’s reluctance to take decisive action on Hester shows just how out of touch they are with public opinion and politics more generally.

The latest YouGov poll shows that 50% of the public disapprove of the Government’s record to date. Similarly Labour have lessened the Conservatives recent poll lead and the two are now level pegging, despite the public’s worries over Miliband’s leadership.

Across the channel Francois Hollande has bankers quaking in their boots with his tax and spend policies. The French presidential hopeful has the City of London worried to such an extent that he is over here next month to calm things down.

Further afield Obama has also recently reasserted his plans to make everyone, even the wealthy, play by the same rules. An attack on his likely presidential challenger Romney, this may be, but it also echoes a theme which has been played out across the globe after the financial crisis.

Of course, asking the Conservatives to join this tune would be asking them to contradict their nature, but their belated response to Hester has shown how happy they are to distance themselves from this growing political agenda. Perhaps if they had taken decisive action one way or another they could have mitigated against the worst of the damage.


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