Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Name and shame high paid - Cable

By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter, BBC News, Lib Dem spring conference

Vince Cable says the bonus culture is 'all pervasive'

Vince Cable has called for highly paid executives in the private and public sectors to be named and shamed.

In his speech to the Lib Dem spring conference, the party's deputy leader demanded full disclosure of salaries more than 194,000 - what the PM earns.

The move would ensure "fat cats have nowhere to hide", he told delegates.

Publicly listed firms publish board members' pay but Mr Cable claimed some of the highest earners do not join boards to avoid full disclosure.

He named two bankers, Roger Jenkins, who he claimed is paid 40m a year, and Peter Cummings, who he said had helped "destroy" the Royal Bank of Scotland "and is in line for a 6m pension pot".

The Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, who has been one of the leading critics of excessive City salaries, attacked what he called "extreme, obscene, inequalities of reward".

But he extended criticism to public sector employees who expect bonuses whether they succeed or fail.

"Civil servants now expect big bonuses if they meet their targets and, if they don't, bonuses to encourage them to try harder," he said.

"The scale of greed is less but the self-serving instincts of the public sector aristocracy are fundamentally no different from the bankers'."

Labour attacked

He said rank-and-file workers at failed banks should be thankful that they still have a job at all rather than appealing for bonuses.

"The bonus culture has become all-pervasive.

"I get plaintive letters from bank employees - not well off but not poor - demanding to be paid their bonus even though their banks have collapsed and survive only on public money," he said.

"I understand the annoyance of people who do not get the pay they were expecting. But without the taxpayer, they would not have a job, let alone a bonus.

"Many in other industries have not been so lucky."

Mr Cable also launched a stinging attack on Gordon Brown's economic record, comparing New Labour to a "bad bank".

He told delegates in Harrogate: "Labour has dominated the progressive side of British politics for 80 years. But no more.

"Labour has lost its moral authority.

"And economic failure has killed the New Labour brand.

"Just as good banks are being separated from bad banks there is a separation in progressive politics.

"Labour is the bad bank with a legacy of toxic policies and failed management. We are the good bank.

"In these difficult and uncertain times the Liberal Democrats have the ideas, the idealism and the values to meet the national need."

'Get-rich-quick'

The Lib Dems are using their two-day conference to highlight their message on the economy - such as tax cuts for low and middle income workers - and show that the party can lead Britain out of recession.

Despite positive media coverage of Mr Cable's response to the economic crisis, the Lib Dems still trail behind the two larger parties when it comes to the public's confidence in their ability to steer the economy out of recession, a ComRes poll for The Independent newspaper this week suggests.

Tory leader David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne have overtaken Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling as confidence leaders in the poll.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg opened the conference with a rally for delegates on Friday evening at Harrogate's Royal Hall, in which he attacked the "get-rich-quick" philosophy of the Thatcherite 1980s.

He also paid tribute to previous Lib Dem leaders, as the party celebrates its 21st birthday.

It was formed in 1988 following a merger between the Liberal Party and the SDP.

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