Adam Lovejoy writes from the City of London: Fears are growing that mass riots of bankers may erupt in the City as a result of Barclays Bank’s Chairman Marcus Agius and its CEO, Bob Diamond, being forced out of their jobs by unscrupulous people with no respect for the wonderful world of banking and high interest lending.
The feeling in the City is that both men became victims of a hate campaign orchestrated by the enemies of the financial sector and were targeted simply because unlike most people they had plenty of money to burn. That and their perfectly legal vast bonuses turned them into national hate figures, bankers feel, pointing out that it was only a matter of time before an innocent misunderstanding concerning a flexible approach within Barclays to Libor rates was blown out of all proportion and Messrs Agius and Diamond became victims of a witch hunt. After several days of harassment and intimidation they were pushed out of their jobs, with no prospects of getting multi-billion golden handshakes, a must for every self-respecting banker.
‘Bob and Marcus were mistreated for the sole reason that they were big bankers,’ one hedge fund manager told Stirring Trouble on condition that his name would not be revealed. ‘In a supposedly tolerant 21st century it’s considered no big deal to uncover some petty mistake in a bank and then throw the book at two perfectly innocent people. How do I know they’re innocent? Because they look like innocent men and that’s good enough for me.’
Another hedge fund manager, Bobby Incredible, said that bankers as a minority are given a tough ride because they’re smarter, better looking and know how to have a good time. ‘I always feel when I go to expensive restaurants or visit lap top dancing clubs that people stare at me with hostility,’ he said. ‘And that hurts, you know, because I’m simply doing my job and it’s not my fault that it’s a highly paid job, is it? It’s not like I was born into the Royal family and get money for nothing.’
‘The City is a powder keg,’ Scotty McCrutchen, a trader, said. ‘The people here have had enough of mistreatment and intimidation. They say it’s not their fault they’re successful. Success just came to them, they didn’t ask for it. Things can erupt at any moment.’
The feeling among bankers and traders and brokers in the Square Mile is that the time has come for direct action and that peaceful means of protest like tax evasion are no longer sufficient to bring the message across that the financial sector is not that much different from any other sector and deserves the respect of government, the media and all those people who don’t really matter. That is why militants among the money men are now calling on others to hit the mean streets of London this summer, to make their voices heard. Tensions are already running high in the City, with rumours of the Treasury planning a serious crackdown on bonuses and looking at the possibility of putting bankers on fixed salaries without letting them earn commissions from their deals. The feeling here is that the appalling treatment of two outstanding figures in the banking world, Agius and Diamond, could come as a last straw.
Police think that riots in the City could be sparked by some small incident, like for example a revelation that a financial institution has been defrauding millions of its customers. Hundreds of bankers would then come out on the streets, terrorising passers-by and smashing up shops, newsagents and restaurants that they feel have been sucking their hard-earned money out of them for way too long. Things, according to experts, could get even uglier if money men in other cities joined in the protests. Cops are currently compiling lists of known trouble makers in the banking world, hoping that they could be lured away from violence by promises of big bonuses and promotions.