The mayor stepped up to the plate again yesterday over banking bonuses when he made a plea for workers in the financial sector to donate their Christmas windfalls to after-school clubs and helping disadvantaged children.
A laudable request, though Boris Johnson's volte face around the subject of banking is well documented: Dave Hill's London Blog detailed some of the mayor's contradictory comments at the end of last year and Boris became even more animated on the subject when he claimed that the City could become a financial lacuna as a result of clampdowns on bonus payments and increased taxation - a sentiment echoed by both Goldman Sachs and HSBC who threatened a strategic withdrawal for more sympathetic climes though HSBC did later confirm they were staying put.
Banker bashing has become something of a popular pastime in the post-credit crunch era and Boris's suggestions that bankers should 'pay back' society for the bailouts received during the crisis will no doubt seem reasonable to many. But hang on there just a second - in his letter to Alistair Darling, Boris himself pointed out; 'The financial services sector contributes one pound in seven of all tax collected, making a vital contribution to financing public services across the UK which deliver our homes, hospitals and transport infrastructure. Having a world-class financial services sector supports related activity in accountancy, legal services, publishing and media, as well as local economies through spending on shops, restaurants and other services.' So it isn't quite a one-way street.
The opinion that London's financial workers are to a person all mini Gordon Gekkos who need to be bludgeoned and cajoled into helping others is implicit. It's also rather misleading. In the same article, Nomura's donation to a Camberwell after-school club is mentioned, but the numerous initiatives run by other institutions is overlooked: HSBC, JP Morgan and RBS amongst others all run schemes to help both people and the environment and not just through cash donations, but by encouraging employees to give up time as well. But with the bonus season almost upon us and the outraged headlines about millions of pounds 'handed out' waiting in the wings, it wouldn't have made such a good story.