Not so smooth: Clegg falls to pieces in bank bonus chit-chat

LIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg clearly didn’t eat his Weetabix yesterday morning. Normally a consummate media performer, as evidenced by his strong showing in the leaders’ debates, the “trust me, I’m a Lib Dem” act didn’t do the trick on Radio 4’s Today programme.

Verbose Scot Jim Naughtie was asking the questions, and he caught Clegg out on the issue du jour: bonuses.

You’d think Clegg – who once told City A.M. he would declare a “fatwa on bonuses” for all “strategically important bank employees” – would have come prepared.

“Many people will remember you saying on bank bonuses that you as a party would not stand idly by, which is precisely what you’re doing,” said Naughtie, providing a perfect opportunity for Clegg to wax lyrical on tough new bonus rules (written by Brussels) and the need for restraint in the face of largesse. Alas, the deputy PM was lost for words.

“Well… erm.. uh… you… I don’t think you can say that until one sees, er, what you know, the outset.”

“Well that’s an interesting observation,” came Naughtie’s lightning quick reply. Quite.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Nomura bankers were treated to a gourmet lunch in their own building yesterday, as a duo of famous chefs, Monica Galetti and Michel Roux Jr, came to cook for 1,900 hungry staff.

The event was pitched as a celebration of the opening of a restaurant on the top floor of Nomura’s building, with an offering a significant step up from most office cafeterias.

Plates were piled high with braised ox cheek in red wine, bacon lardons, cod cassoulet with gremolata (whatever that is), all straight off the menu of Roux’s Michelin-starred restaurants, Le Gavroche and Parliament Square.

But it was their minds as well as their stomachs that the bankers were anxious to fill: signed copies of Roux’s book sold out even before all the food was gobbled down. Banking isn’t all about greed, it seems.

PIECES OF EIGHT
Proof that there’s still a place in the modern world economy for old-fashioned bartering. India is reportedly considering an attempt to buy Iranian oil with gold so as to cut out pesky sanctions. So could the world’s premier commodity finally go back to currency status? Personally, The Capitalist longs for the day when we all have to carry around fashionable leather purses of heavy metal instead of those horrible paper notes.