Jesse Norman

Andrew Hill

Politicians continue to demonstrate a fierce desire to be seen to be doing something – anything! – about excessive executive pay and corporate tax avoidance. Nick Clegg, UK deputy prime minister, used a BBC radio interview on Thursday to step up the verbal assault on such practices. He said:

Look at this debate about irresponsible capitalism, what I call crony capitalism. It’s Liberal Democrats [Clegg's party] who’ve led the debate on clamping down on bankers’ bonuses and we must be just as tough this year in the bonus season that’s coming up as we were last year, if not more so.

It’s for him and his colleagues to prove that these threats can be turned into effective action, but in the meantime I’m struck by his terminology. What Mr Clegg calls “crony capitalism” is not what most of us call crony capitalism. I have always assumed the term applies quite specifically to unsavoury, over-cosy relationships between businesspeople and politiciansRead more