Bankers' Bonuses Tax Act 2009
Another day, another terrible opinion poll for Labour. This one has the Tories on 42%, Labour on 28% and Lib Dems on 18%.
What is particularly sad at the moment is that the government just seems so pathetic - like Gordon Brown (who I like and respect) urging the bankers not to take their bonuses and saying he is very cross about it.
He's the Prime Minister of a government which is going to be in power for at least another year with a comfortable majority. He doesn't have to "urge" bankers or express moral outrage about their behaviour - he can tell them what to do and if they don't like it then that's their tough luck.
And for all this 'it is in their contracts that they get bonuses', so what? Just pass a new law called something like the "Bankers' Bonuses Tax Act", which states that any bonus paid to a banker over £5,000 gets taxed at a rate of 110%. It probably doesn't even need an Act of Parliament.
It's a really galling contrast that when it comes to asylum-seekers or large families in social housing, policies to 'appease public concern' get dashed off with ease, irrespective of merit. And yet somehow when it comes to bankers behaving in the most disgracefully anti-social way and taking the piss out of the taxpayer on a gigantic scale, all our government does is tut and set up a review.
It is a horrendously difficult time for all government ministers, and Gordon Brown most of all, trying to help people in the midst of this terrible economic crisis. He's an intelligent, clever and decent man, and we'll miss him desperately if the polls are correct and the next Prime Minister is a man who has been wrong on every single important issue of the past few years and whose skills are all about public relations and little else. But one of the reasons Labour is getting kicked about at the moment is that it is all a mix of either crisis management and being 'tough' on the most vulnerable.
There is so much good that our Labour government could achieve over the next year, and that would help to revive our fortunes electorally. But it's got to start by standing up for the little guy and picking and winning some fights with the rich and the powerful, and there is no better place to start than with these bankers.