Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Bonneville’

Oh dear Ed, this Europe policy is a disaster

12/03/2014, 11:53:18 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

Today, Ed Miliband blew it.

Contrary to some of the warm words from the likes of Martin Sorrell and Peter Mandelson, effectively ruling out a referendum has sabotaged Labour’s last chance to win over a strong coalition of business backers, not to mention irrevocably divide the Tories.

Labour is largely united on the benefits of staying in Europe. Trade, growth, jobs and the environment are all policy areas wholly dependent on our positive relations with the continent.

It’s a strong case but one that our frontbenchers seem reluctant to make.

The media is largely hostile and in the hurly burly of daily political debate, it’s understandable that Labour politicians prioritise issues more immediately relevant to voters.

Yes, today Ed Miliband gave a speech on Europe, but how many more times will he mention the subject in the next year?

It’s clear that today’s speech was an exercise in box ticking, in doing the bare minimum before abandoning the European battlefield.

If we, as pro-Europeans, want to play a positive role in Europe, we can’t do so without the engagement of the British public. There is a debate that is being conducted and right now Labour isn’t even in the chamber.


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C’mon Ed, back an in/out EU referendum for the day of the next election and destroy the Tories

30/09/2013, 07:00:54 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

Europe remains the Tories’ Achilles heel. Polling conducted by YouGov for Labour Uncut reveals that 1 in 5 2010 Tory voters have defected, with 60% switching to UKIP.

These figures will worry an already jittery Conservative party. No matter what David Cameron seems to do, no matter how much he genuflects before the altar of Euroscepticism, it’s never enough. Core support keeps leaching out to the right.

As I’ve set out in my chapter in Labour Uncut’s recent book, “Labour’s manifesto uncut: how to win in 2015 and why,” this peculiar spectacle presents an enormous opportunity for Labour.

On Tuesday evening, the night before David Cameron gives his leader’s speech, Ed Miliband should set aside his widely aired reservations and announce that Labour now backs a straight in/out EU referendum for May 7th 2015.

Such an intervention would transform the political landscape. All that has happened so far this parliament would be rendered instantly irrelevant.

On the pro-European side, a broad coalition would be assembled bringing together unions, business organisations and civil society groups, a true example of One Nation politics. Labour and Lib Dems would stand united on the most important issue of the next general election.

It would force quiet pro-Europeans (distant cousins of the quiet bat people) to come out and say it loud: “We need to stay in Europe!”

For Labour, which has had a difficult recent relationship with business, this would be a rare chance to redraw the dividing lines of political debate.

Labour would be the party standing with business. The Tories would be left making the difficult case that business people did not know what was good for their own firms. For those who recall the damage done to Labour’s 2010 election campaign by the letter from businessmen criticising the party’s national insurance policy, the irony would be rich.


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Why do athletes break the rules? The same reason the MPs and bankers do. It’s the incentives, stupid

07/08/2012, 07:00:50 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

It’s been an eventful Olympics. Joyous victory, heartbreaking defeat and, in a couple of notable instances, newsworthy disqualifications.

First, the Chinese badminton team was disqualified for not trying hard enough to win a game. On the face of it, a sound decision, not least because their opponents were trying to lose as well, resulting quite literally in a race to the bottom, in which the spectators were the real losers.

In that instance, all the teams involved (eight players in total, actually) were disqualified for having breached the rules which state that one must, having shown up for a game, at least try to win.

So far, so depressing for all concerned.

Then Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria was also thrown out of the games, despite having qualified for the 1500 metres final.  His crime? His team failed to withdraw him from the 800 metres, so he was forced to compete. Presumably keen to avoid exhaustion and/or injury and thereby risking his chances in the 1500, he dawdled around the track before giving up and wandering across the infield, possibly in an ingenious attempt at a short cut to the finish, but more likely because he simply didn’t want to be running that race.

He was disqualified from the games, including the medal hope he was trying to protect, for not giving a bona fide effort.

There are arguments to be had about the rights and wrongs of sporting conduct, but that is not what is most interesting here.

What is interesting is the clear lesson to be learned in the difference between rules and incentives. Specifically, that incentives are far more powerful than rules.


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Want to fix banking regulation? Try a dose of greed

04/07/2012, 07:00:07 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for bankers.

Barclays has been caught with its fingers in the proverbial till again. A new mis-selling scandal has been unveiled featuring all our favourite banking villains. And Nat West meanwhile fails to perform even the most basic of tasks one would expect from a bank.

The cry has gone up, “something must be done,” and in government, this means inquiries, reports, sage deliberations and, ultimately, nothing happening to the banks who, by an astonishing coincidence, are also substantial donors and lobbyists.

Meanwhile Joris Luyendijk’s excellent blogs in the Guardian continue to reveal the mentality of some people in financial services and the potentially toxic culture that they are immersed in and inevitably affected by.

One of the finest examples of this is the interview with a senior regulator, who advises,

“Banks are fundamentally amoral places. They are not immoral; morality simply has no part in the decision-making process. They talk about ‘reputational risk’, not about right and wrong decisions”

He’s not wrong. The resignation statement of Barclay’s chairman Marcus Agius (before he unresigned himself and took charge again following Bob Diamond’s exit) declares.

“We will establish a zero-tolerance policy for any actions that harm the reputation of the bank.”

Not even zero tolerance for actions that could harm the reputation of the bank. This form of words rather unfortunately leaves the door open to an interpretation that Barclays staff are being enjoined not to “do no wrong” but “don’t get caught”.

Bob Diamond followed suit yesterday with the type of heartfelt of mea culpa that restores public faith in bankers’ conscience and integrity,

“The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise”

Or maybe not.

Clearly then, it is a vain hope that the bad banks will keep their own house in order, so what is the solution?


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