By Marcus Leach
So, in the end Stephen Hester turned down the vast bonus he was entitled to, presumably because the public outrage would have simply been too much to handle had he not done so.
Forget the morals of his accepting the bonus in the first place, or even the need to justify such a bonus at a time when the economy is in dire straits. The real issue here is people power, and what can be achieved by sheer volume of numbers.
The reaction to the news that Hester was to take a bonus close to a million pounds was of general outrage, to say the least, both from the general public and public figures alike.
David Cameron and George Osborne had claimed that there was little they could do to prevent Hester had he gone ahead and taken his bonus. But, by the end of the weekend, and with various petitions, consisting of hundreds of thousands of names, signed, Hester took the decision to waiver his bonus.
Has this case set a precedent? If the answer is 'yes' then going forward from here there is the very real chance decisions will be made based on the weight of numbers, despite of any other factors. Because it seems, taking this case as the benchmark, what the public wants, the public gets.
Ultimately Hester had every right to take his bonus, yet to do so would have cast him as the eternal villain of the banking world. And thus he bowed to the pressure of the people. It will be interesting to see if his companions at other leading financial institutes follow suit, or if it will take people power to bring about those decisions too.
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