Nick Clegg's vow to 'get tough' on private sector pay 'strategically spot on'

The timing of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's vow to 'get tough' on the private sector's 'excessive boardroom pay' is 'strategically spot on' according to PR professionals.

Nick Clegg: to curb excessive private sector pay
Nick Clegg: to curb excessive private sector pay

Clegg announced that the Government will publish new proposals in January with the aim of curbing what Clegg describes as ‘unjustified and irresponsible’ pay in the private sector.

The proposals are expected to include widening the membership of remuneration committees, which work out pay levels, to include workers.

Lexis corporate head James Thellusson believes timing the announcement so close to the public sector strikes was ‘strategically spot on’. He said: ‘This is clearly calculated to mitigate anger among public sector workers that top bosses "get away with murder" while their pensions get bashed. It allows the Government to show they're trying to be fair in difficult times which is one of their central narratives.’

Clegg, commenting on recent figurers, which found executive salaries at some of Britain’s largest companies rose 50 per cent last year, said these are ‘a real slap in the face’ for workers, adding: ‘What I abhor is people getting paid bucket-loads of cash in difficult times for failure.’

He accused top executives in the private sector of ‘irresponsible behaviour’ and vowed to ‘break open this closed shop of remuneration committees which seems to be too often an old boy's network... I scratch your back you scratch my back’.

Thellusson added that Clegg’s bullish language such as ‘abhor’, ‘a real slap in the face’, ‘get tough’, irresponsible behaviour’, hits home how serious the Deputy Prime Minister is about this subject.

He said: ‘We always say to clients: flex your language and tone to reflect how serious or passionate you are about something. This is what Clegg is doing here.

‘Accusing remuneration committees of being closed shops is an interesting reversal of the classic attack on trade unions. He's also appealing to some deeply buried class concerns: that the public school "old boys" network at the top of business looks after its own. It's a nice piece of political communication.’ 

Chris Rumfitt, public affairs MD at Edelman, is cautious however: 'It’s symbolic of the changing centre ground in British politics that even the Conservative-led Coalition Government think something needs to be done about executive pay. The challenge here is making the rhetoric match the reality – talking about top pay restraint is one thing, delivering it quite another.'

The Government’s move comes after The Bank of England’s Financial Stability Report revealed plans of a crackdown on excessive banking pay and measures to make it harder for investment bankers to take home multi-million pound bonuses.

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