News Ketchup

Bonus days are here again

Not since the Nazis took every penny off German Jewish families during 1937 – and then charged their relatives abroad to let them flee –  has there been quite such a brass-necked con on the scale of bankers paying themselves bonuses this year. But pay themselves they will, and to Hell with what the Sovereign body of our country thinks.

RBS directors are ‘adamant’ that they will pay senior high-performing directors huge bonuses, despite the billions they still owe the taxpayer…and the highly-toxic crap left simmering away like a neurotic isotope on the books. There’s also the small matter of 3,500 jobs being lost as RBS withdraws  from the investment banking sector.

Given that latter reality, I am left wondering why RBS needs to reward successful, um, investment bankers. Easing them out by giving them nothing would seem like a more commercial approach, but then what do I know?

Bob Diamond at Barclays – a man once referred to by a New York circuit judge as “unreliable at a witness” – is set to give himself £10m – although I understand this is his reward for dodging the Government’s SME lending target by £900m….without incurring any penalties.

Diamond literally told Vince Cable to f**k off to his face last week – small beer for this MoU these days, given he more or less said the same thing to a Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry last year, and to the Prime Minister in late 2010. On this issue, it is indeed to Downing Street that we should now look for a lead. There we will find two – one round Dave’s neck, and the other round Osborne’s – as Black Bob takes both his lapdogs for their Sunday constitutional up and down Whitehall.

Tesco rushes to Robbins’ defence

Not content with having employed a JCB to dig itself a big hole about alleged insider trading in the senior ranks, Tesco was on course for the centre of the Earth last night as it defended the COO’s hurried share sale, saying he ‘needed to raise cash for family expenditure’. I have it on very good authority that when Ronnie Biggs took part in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, he too faced the wrath of some pretty ruthless gambling club owners. I don’t, however, remember his Brief at the subsequent trial asking this to be considered in mitigation of him having bashed the train-driver’s head in.

CEO Phil ‘Hopeless’ Clarke has meanwhile announced his 2012-13 strategy to turn Tesco round: spending £500M on store facelifts and more staff in order to “reconnect with the customer”. Go to the Shop Tesco section here at The Slog for further evidence of why Tesco really doesn’t connect with customers. Apparently it’s something to do with cheating them.

‘People no longer want more,’ opined one business guru in today’s Sundays, ‘they want value’. Indeed they do. And increasingly, they want Government to do something about the bad guys. How Tesco can quite openly enjoy a 31% market share and avoid being forced to sell some stores by the M&M committee is a little out of my league I’m afraid, as I was never good at the illogic of exceptions. We might look for a lead from Vince Cable, but his too is round the neck, being held by Osborne; and as we already know, following the Newscorp scandal, his underling Jeremy Rhyminge-Slang’s only lead is the one held by Dave.

We must all hope that the slurry of dog-walkers in Downing Street have got their pooper-scoopers with them.

Re the Times titles: is anyone at the wheel?

As the global media battle that has emerged from techno-confluence heats up, Rupert ‘Memory Man’ Murdoch could be forgiven for taking no interest in his offline flagship newspapers, the Times and Sunday Times. Which is a good thing, as he’s clearly taking no interest in them whatsoever. The tricky thing in this situation, however, is working out just who, among the Wapping Liars – is interested. The Business Section goes from bad to worse. A piece about changes in broadcast technology, for instance, has a shot of a girlie in flimsy top and crutch-gripping hotpants washing a car…underneath which the caption says ‘streaming movies is the new battleground’. Is Kelvin ‘Slug’ Mackenzie back in there somewhere doing his Salvador Dali impression?

‘We need productivity, but growth must come first’ states David Smith controversially. Kate Walsh writes a piece allegedly about ‘Tesco’s blueprint for change’ which concludes ‘Clarke’s vision is of a Tesco that offers value, friendliness, attentive service and an enjoyable shopping environment’. This is a realisation of change below even that achieved by Barack Obama. On page 5 of the BS (yes, quite) today, is a piece laughably called ‘Goldman’s Trojan Horse’, rerunning the Greek hidden debts seminar held by Goldman Sachs to help defraud Brussels some five years ago. The Slog – among about a half billion other sites – wrote variations of and updates on this story during 2009. This is a record in missing deadlines. Harry Evans would’ve run a piece about corruption in Brussels stopping Goldman from being indicted. But then, Harry was editor a long, long time ago.

A good third of the main paper’s content today will be liver-chopped and changed a bit to reappear largely unchanged in tomorrow’s tabloid reading-age-of-14 Times edition. This means you will have another chance to wonder about the gay Dean about to sue the Church, hedge fund managers helping trophy women fight divorce cases in return for a share of the take, Britain’s hidden Somali pirate ransoms (another five month old story), and parents paying £1000 per hour to super-tutors for their kids. The equally risible News Review pull-out (‘new friend-trend’ online good deeds blockbuster, Queen loves horses sensation) is as always saved only by the regular anchors like Jeremy Clarkson and increasingly absent Minette Marrin. Even Simon Jenkins seems to have jumped ship. A truly awful piece by Magarette Driscoll this weekend tries to claim that Anthony Worrall-Thompson’s case is just the tip of a national shoplifting epidemic. The worst kind of attach-an-old-story-to-a-celeb, its opportunism was matched only by Ms Driscoll’s profound conclusion that the TV chef is ‘suffering some kind of mid-life crisis’. Not leprosy then, or septicaemia maybe? Some kind of mid-life crisis. God help us.

A recent speech in Thailand proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Murdoch Sr. still has all the slates on his roof. But his interest now – quite rightly from the Newscorp shareholders’ perspective – is ensuring that he has enough control over changing technical switchgear that holds the future of news in the maturing digital age. The Times titles would indeed be much better off if somebody with fresh marketing ideas about offline infotainment and online nuances took them on. Roop should stop holding out for a better price, and flog them. He is, after all, going to need some serious grease-money to keep James out of jail.