Sept 2010 - Health, wealth and greedy bankers

01 June 2013

FIRSTLY I want to express my warmest thanks to the many friends and colleagues who sent me messages of encouragement and support when they heard of my recent heart surgery. It is when you are faced with difficult times that you appreciate the great human bond of trade unionism. I was deeply moved by your concern and thank each and every one of you.

 

As I return to health I am acutely aware of the terrible torments of our soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. I am haunted by the image of that brave young soldier who, only a few weeks after being pictured with David Beckham on his good-will mission, stood on a booby-trap and had to have both his legs amputated. His spine, jaw and eye socket were fractured. His active life is over.

 

Whatever our views on the Afghan conflict, while it continues we have an obligation to ensure our soldiers have the very best equipment – regardless of cost. They are fighting for their country, and their country must provide for them as best it can. That is why I am appalled to hear of soldiers with inadequate equipment or back-up, the result of cut-backs or the need for us all to ‘tighten our belts’.

 

It is certainly not a concept accepted by the banking fraternity. Bankers nearly destroyed our national economy in their greedy pursuit of personal wealth. They should be hanging their heads in shame. But instead, as soldiers die - bankers party. Last month saw a ‘festival for bankers’ celebrating ‘the start of economic recovery’ at an event organised by the ‘Square Mile’ magazine.

 

Bankers from Barclays, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, and HSBC guzzled champagne and indulged themselves with ‘burlesque’ dancers, singers, casino tables and free massages.

 

It is an outrage that while soldiers died for lack of equipment, Barclays’ bill for salaries and bonuses for investment bankers reached almost £3 billion. It is a sick society where greed is rewarded, and sacrifice is treated with contempt.

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