Darling's banker bashing

Former chancellor attacks the bankers as "arrogant and stupid" in new extracts from his memoir.

More extracts from Alistair Darling's memoir, due out next Wednesday, have leaked onto Labour Uncut, and today we get his view of Fred Goodwin and co. "My worry," writes Darling, "was that they (the bankers) were so arrogant and stupid that they might bring us all down".

The former chancellor reportedly lambasts Goodwin's response to the crisis as that of someone "off to play a game of golf", concluding that the former RBS boss "deserved to be a pariah". Elsewhere, Darling describes Andy Hornby, the former chief executive of HBOS, as "looking like he was about to explode" when confronted with the full scale of what had happened on his watch. According to Labour Uncut's Atul Hatwal, the former chancellor will also attack a lack of gratitude for the bailout that was "as shocking as it was stupid".

What makes Darling's intervention politically notable is that it comes so soon before the publication of the Vickers report on banking. As the Lib Dems fight for the introduction of a strict ring-fence between banks' retail and investment arms, Darling's attack on the avarice of the City won't do their cause any harm.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum No vote

Europe's right-wing populists cheered the result. 

Italy's centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was forced to resign late on Sunday after he lost a referendum on constitutional change.

With most ballots counted, 60 per cent of Italians voted No to change, according to the BBC. The turn out was nearly 70 per cent. 

Voters were asked whether they backed a reform to Italy's complex political system, but right-wing populists have interpreted the referendum as a wider poll on the direction of the country.

Before the result, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "Hope the exit polls in Italy are right. This vote looks to me to be more about the Euro than constitutional change."

The leader of France's far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, tweeted "bravo" to her Eurosceptic "friend" Matteo Salvini, a politician who campaigned for the No vote. She described the referendum result as a "thirst for liberty". 

In his resignation speech, Renzi told reporters he took responsibility for the outcome and added "good luck to us all". 

Since gaining office in 2014, Renzi has been a reformist politician. He introduced same-sex civil unions, made employment laws more flexible and abolished small taxes, and was known by some as "Europe's last Blairite".

However, his proposed constitutional reforms divided opinion even among liberals, because of the way they removed certain checks and balances and handed increased power to the government.

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.