Stools, salad and mild humiliation: the Goldman Greg Smith loved

Smith's first chapter on Goldman Sachs.

You may remember Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs employee who skewered the Vampire Squid in a New York Times op-ed piece earlier this year. Well he's back now, layering on the post-hoc criticism in a book, the first chapter of which was yesterday leaked online.

The chapter is an account of his first encounter in the company as an intern, and  catalogues experiences with stools (interns had to fight over seats, which they then had to carry around all day), 5am "punishment" starts, teary public humiliation, and salad (one intern got someone the wrong lunch, and it was binned in front of him).

This is all slightly unpleasant but not remarkably so: worse things happen at sea and reviewers from both Posts (Washington and Huffington) have said as much. But re-read Smith's original letter, and you realise that the first chapter is actually supposed to record Goldman's golden era, the bank Smith originally signed up for, and which:

"revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years."

He mourned that, by the time he left,

The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

It sounds like the students probably knew already.

Interns fought over stools. Photograph: Getty Images

Martha Gill writes the weekly Irrational Animals column. You can follow her on Twitter here: @Martha_Gill.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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