A choice for Tories: Goldman Sachs or UKIP?

4 December 2013

9:21 PM

4 December 2013

9:21 PM

Hats-off to James Kirkup for noticing that Goldman Sachs have suggested they would “drastically” cut their UK workforce (and operations) should Britain decide to leave the European Union. That is the view of Michael Sherwood, the fellow responsible for running Goldman’s european operations.

I am sure eurosceptics will dismiss this as the usual scaremongering just as Scottish nationalists dismiss warnings that some businesses (RBS?) might shift their operations south in the event Scotland votes for independence next year. This is but one of the many ways in which the european and Scottish questions overlap or dovetail with one another.

Perhaps it is only scaremongering! But what if it isn’t? In any case, the Tory High Command can be forgiven for considering this a distinctly unhelpful intervention in the european debate.

It is true, as James observes, that investment banking houses are few people’s idea of popular heroes of capitalism. Many people may chunter that we’d be well shot of the buggers anyway. Nevertheless, Mr Sherwood’s remarks point to another looming Tory split on europe. A split, this time, between those Tories most keenly-attuned to the interests of high finance and the City of London and those more inclined to the pitchfork and populism wing of the party.


You can appease Goldman Sachs or you can appease UKIP. It will be very difficult to appease both. The party’s heart increasingly lies with the pitchforkers but its head – and, rather importantly, its bank account – still rests with the financiers.

There is, plainly, a tension between these two instincts and resolving it will go a long, long way towards determining whatever the party thinks next about europe.

With the usual caveats about the dangers of reading too much into American examples, I would simply observe that when the Republican party has been asked to choose between – to put it crudely – the interests of Wall Street and those of Main Street it has tended to side with the former.

Perhaps the Tories will choose differently. The latest polling from marginal constituencies will doubtless help concentrate minds. The Tory party seems to be in the process of persuading itself that UKIP constitute a bigger threat than even Labour. (I do not share this belief; I note only that it seems widely held.)

But making a play for UKIP voters is not a cost-free exercise and, if nothing else, this warning from Goldman Sachs may remind Tories of a truth they often seem to discount.

The Better Off Out brigade will, I suppose, have none of this and continue to insist that Britain outwith the EU will enjoy everything it presently enjoys and endure none of the things it does not. Perhaps so. But in this, too, they rather resemble Alex Salmond’s Scottish nationalists. Funny old world, sometimes.

UPDATE: Andrew Stuttaford reminds me that Peter Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, is a former EU commissioner. So this, the implication is, should be filed in the drawer marked They would say that wouldn’t they? Moreover, as Andrew says, the precise nature of the terms of any “Brexit” would have some impact on all this. Perhaps. But even so…


Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • mipple

    We’ll be well shot of Goldman Sachs, they are heading the BOE, IMF, ECD, FED, PM’s Italian and greek governments, Sucking up real assets for the debt based money, that these private banks have created from nothing. Only Farage has the guts to say the Iceland had the right idea, bankruptcy and prison.

    Visit “positive money” and watch “the money masters” on youtube to understand the depth of the banking scam. Only Farage has actual opinions he arrived at by being a sentient being. The rest are PC robots that never had a job.

  • Frank

    I can just see the top brass of GS settling in to life in Frankfurt! I am sure that Michael Sherwood will love it. Is there any way we can encourage them (and the hedge funders and vulture fund investors) to leave these shores for good?

  • andagain

    In any case, the Tory High Command can be forgiven for considering this a distinctly unhelpful intervention in the european debate.

    Oh, I don’t know. One of THC’s problems is that their members seem convinced that hatred of the EU and all its works in the one true virtue in the world, and that all other considerations must be subordinated to this fixed moral point. From the THC’s point of view, something which throws doubt on this adamantine conviction may be quite helpful.

  • Hugh

    Goldman Sachs’ contribution simply tells us that Goldman Sachs would prefer the UK to stay in the UK, unless you reckon they’ve a sterling reputation for honesty. They don’t. Since Goldman Sachs’ interests are not, shall we say, perfectly aligned with the general population’s, the choice between “appeasing” Goldman Sachs or UKIP is a touch moronic.

    • andagain

      But why does Goldman Sachs want the UK to stay in the EU. Presumably because they think that will make it easier for their UK arm to make money.

      From which we can conclude that they expect that it would be harder to make money here after leaving the EU – and that they expect to downscale their operations here after such an exit.

      So their point must be true – they do believe they would downscale their operations in the event that we left the EU.

      • Hugh

        The fact they believe they would be more profitable if we stay in the EU (and presuming they genuinely know is a stretch) does not tell us they would go to the not inconsiderable trouble and expense of relocating if we did not. Much less does it tell us that the net effect would be that the rest of the country would be worse off.

  • outraged

    Given that UKiP is a party of City boys who are exploiting human misery caused by their own strategies to further political power (by cutting off the middle man), I can only treat this announcement as a psychological trick calculated on harnessing rightful anger against ‘Banksters’ in support of UKiP – and distancing this party in the eyes of the public opinion from their obvious City connections. Very smart trick, the enemy of UKiP (British people) will certainly get confused.

    • Wessex Man

      I read some pretty ropey desperate attempts to blacken my party’s name but you are a classic, I think you will find out next year you are talking a load of B*** S***!

      • outraged

        I am telling the truth because I am in the position to know it, unlike some poor Taxi driver your party is targeting. Your party can pull the wool over his eyes, and channel his rightful anger on weak, but decent and loyal minorities, I grant you that.

        Your B-S will get out in 3 years, max

        • Wessex Man

          I now regret my earlier comment about you, I understand now that I have been very mean to you, that you need a loving friendly arm put around you, like a warden at an institute for the insane.

          • outraged


  • saffrin

    We’re still in the European Union yet many a company is shifting to China and India so I doubt Goldman Sachs leaving will make a jot of difference.
    What will make a difference is forcing the multinationals to pay their due taxes on the profits they make here rather than offloading profits and loses offshore.

  • Dougie

    This comment was made in Germany. Hardly surprising therefore that GS would be talking up Frankfurt as a financial centre. However, when push comes to shove, you will be able to count the number of GS partners whose wives would like to live in Frankfurt rather than London on the fingers of zero hands.

  • classieview

    As someone who has tracked Romania’s ill-starred engagement with the European Union for the last 15 years, Goldman Sach’s shabby role ought to be mentioned.
    This MEGA accountancy firm has received hundreds of millions of euros from the Commission in Brussels for consultancy work.
    What does this detail? Usually endorsing second-rate and sometimes phantom EU programmes for modernisation (infrastructure projects that never get built etc) and saying that the process of bringing Romania closer to the heart of Europe is proceeding with clockwork efficiency.

    So is it any wonder if Goldman Sachs cuts up rough, and snarls if there is the threat that one of the top members of the EU club sees the light and says enough is enough and we’re getting out of the entity that is burying Europe?

    • outraged

      I am glad that someone here has enough brains to recognise that the countries formerly occupied by Soviet Union were in fact robbed and victimised by the EU (as were Southern Economies).

      However with regards to the second paragraph, I would not trust that GS is putting out this information for the sake of keeping stakeholders prepared. I am not 100% sure what to make out of it, but I am pretty sure that it should not be taken at the face value.

  • Redvers Cunningham

    Goldman Sachs is probably just trying to persuade the Commission they are good guys so the fines imposed in the anti-trust proceedings they’re currently subject to will be smaller. London has too much going for it as a centre for finance outside the EU for banks like Goldman Sachs to up sticks to backwaters like Frankfurt or Paris.

  • Two Bob

    Goldman sucks. So much for Alex Massie being a true left winger. He is on the side of the investment bankers. Massie, you seem to be suffering with doublethink.

    Think of all the millions of lives and jobs this product of evil has destroyed over the last few years.

    The modern left disgust me. They are so obsessed with diversity, ending nation states etc that they have forgotten what really matters to the working class.

    You are an author (apparently) I guess you have read 1984 and BNW?

  • Daniel Maris

    So, in summary, Goldman Sachs are a bunch of SH1Ts 🙂 I agree with that.

  • Daniel Maris

    The whole point of the mess of pottage narrative is that if you want your dignity you have to forgo the pottage.

    Maybe that point is a bit beyond you, Massie.

  • startledcod

    I’m not clear if he has been asked exactly why they will be laying off staff and shrinking; he would need to spell out what the reasons were. I think it might be love off a transaction tax.

    • outraged

      Agreed. This whole information management does not make sense whatsoever to a rational observer.

      • Wessex Man

        First you have to find someone rational, which certainly isn’t you.

  • pregethwr

    Wasn’t that on c4 news a few weeks ago?

  • mark tayler

    Who cares? Goldman Sachs have already calculated that the Tories are going to lose in 2015 anyway.

    • Wessex Man

      oh no that’s a landslide for Call me Dave then!

    • rtj1211

      They don’t care who wins, they keep all the politicians in financial call girls, just up the budget a bit each time a party looks like it might get into government.

  • bwims

    More scaremongering from the Speccy’s token leftie.

    Maybe Massie is content to give up self-government and freedom to live under the EUSSR but most of the readers here won’t.

    • Winston Blake

      Those great debts really knock me out
      They kick the West’s behind
      Angela’s blubbery cellulite is hanging out
      That EU troika is always on my, my, my, mind

      Take me to the Carpathian mountains way down South
      Let me foreclose your daddy’s farm
      All the way the bankers’ hands are reaching out
      Come and grease your comrade’s palm

      I’m back in the EUSSR
      You don’t know how lucky you are… boy

      Back in the EU
      Back in the EU
      Back in the EUSSR

      • Wessex Man

        Your poetry is not that good but agree 100%

        • Winston Blake

          The Beatles are a bit passé, and my favorite two are dead.

          But the grey haired audience would connect better than my generation of shaved heads and tattoos…

  • global city

    UKIP have to stop going on about immigrants and start nailing this sort of issue again.

    • Two Bob

      An new report on EU migration revealing estimates of 385,000 Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the UK over five years.

      UKIP should continue with this subject.

      • Alexsandr

        UKIP should talk about immigration, regulations from Brussels, the EURO currency disaster, the ECHR, the lack of EU accountability to the electorate.
        All of these things

        • crosscop

          UKIP should talk about Islam. Unfortunately they appear to be afraid to do so. They should be ripping the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems apart over their constant lies that Muslim atrocities ” have nothing to do with Islam.”
          Having a Muslim who deals in halal meat as their business spokesman is evidence to me that they are not going to confront the Islamification of our country any time soon. Wilders and Le Pen now lead the most popular parties in their countries because they are not afraid to take on Islam. UKIP should take a few lessons in how it’s done.

          • Alexsandr

            would that not open them up to call of ‘Waaycist’
            praps why they are afraid of confronting Islam.

            • FrenchNewsonlin

              Then they should grow a pair, the “Waaycist” muggers are beginning to lose the argument.

          • Wessex Man

            Are you saying every Muslim is a terrorist, don’t be a silly billy, are you saying we should treat all Jews who consume halal meat are also terrorist?

            • pandionhaliaetus

              Of course not every Muslim is a terrorist. However, you might like to reflect on a statement by Abdel Rahman Al-Rashed, a Muslim and the general manager of Arab news channel, Al-Arabiya:

              “Whilst it is a fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, it is
              equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists
              are Muslims.”

            • outraged

              Not surprised that you jumped to the defence of the real welfare leeches and destructive force in the UK.

              The best are often reaping the worst. People love to hate those who are decent and loyal towards them.

              • Wessex Man

                you pretentious pompous fool, I’m just as much against Muslim Terrorists as any other lawabiding Brit. The fact is that there are an awlful lot of Muslims in this country working hard to look after and advance their family and there’s nothing wrong with that unless you are a raving racist loon, probably outraged about it!

                • outraged

                  so why are you condemning ex Soviet occupied countries en masse? you are a hypocrite!

                • Wessex Man

                  I would rather be an hypocrite than a halfwit, what are you on about you cross eyed racist? I’d say you are two ten bobs short of a pound!

                • outraged

                  are these invective all you got? you are a disgrace!

      • global city

        Running with it, especially as it now has it’s own momentum allows the MSM to paint UKIP as the anti immigrant party. I am not saying that that they shouldn’t comment at all, but pushing the agenda will look like stirring.

        I agree with alexadr, below, but feel they should highlight another issue now, judicial creep or Common law, jobs…anything but ‘the gypsies’!

      • outraged

        at least they would come here legally and openly! perhaps you prefer illegal and unregistered immigration from Asia and Africa.

        I bet that you live a long way from Southall , mate.

        • Wessex Man

          I bet you should get help mate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • chudsmania

    I dont suppose Sherwood was asked his views on the EU transactions tax , something that would give his outfit many advantages outside the EU ? Perhaps that sort of question doesnt fit very well knowing most journo’s slavish love for all things EU .

  • keith

    no one find it strange that Obama cheers for Cameron about staying in Europe and who did most of his financial team work for, yes Goldman sachs and perhaps godmann might just have a little interest in the EU keeping the UK in, as they are one of the biggest buyers of EU bonds of course that would have no effect on their opinion would it, i do find this article rather shallow as it would seem to me anyone opposed to the UK withdrawing from the EU are scrapping around for reasons and not checking out the people making the statements can you honestly say Goldman has no vested interest

  • Chris

    idiot. Who would take Goldman sach’s advice on anything. Why not ask them their opinion on Greece entry to the euro if you think they are experts.

    • Daniel Maris

      Did Goldman Sachs foresee the 2008 recession – the biggest, worst since the 1930s? If they did I might listen to them. If they didn’t I won’t.

      • rtj1211

        Of course they did, they engineered it and profited from it. What you must never forget is that they are only interested in their own interests, never in the interests of UK plc.

      • outraged

        My bet is that not only did they ‘know’ but they have orchestrated this unsustainable frenzy to freely asset strip weaker economies to the bone and move this whole circus to ASIA.

        EVERYONE in financial services with a modicum of common sense knew at least since 2004 that the financial system was on the verge of collapse. The only thing I did not expect was the aftermath – I did not see that the earlier frenzy was in fact a very successful guerrilla warfare resulting in regular occupation and pillage of the old world lasting to this day.

  • Phil_Aterly

    Is anyone suggesting a Brexit would only bring beneficial changes? Although I’ve noticed something really strange, there are 171 countries outside the EU and in various ways, most seem to thrive and prosper.

    • angelleb

      Goldman Sachs were instrumental in bringing about the collapse of RBS
      (which the UK taxpayer had to bailout). They managed to get away
      virtually unscathed after causing the loss of thousands of jobs and
      nearly a billion pound bailout by UK tax payers!

      also advised the UK to adopt the Euro in 2000, they said that all the
      Eurozone countries would pull so far ahead of the UK that we would be a
      mere speck in the rear view mirror.

      Goldman Sachs with their Bildeberg envoys are the enemy – they help companies and individuals to squirrel hundreds of millions of pounds into offshore tax havens.

      Hardly the best people to ask for an opinion on EU membership…

      • Winston Blake

        Goldman Sachs Betrayal Of America

        • outraged

          I thought that Spectator is very much pro Israel (and why it should not be), how come that Bro Nathaniel got up votes here?????? Very strange.