The Labour party has condemned proposals by former Lehman Brothers staff to hold a reunion to mark the 10th anniversary of the firm going bust – a defining moment in the 2008 financial crisis.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that people who suffered during the decade of austerity following the crash would be “absolutely disgusted” by the revelation that the get-together was going ahead.
His comment was prompted by a Financial News report saying staff who worked for the investment bank, which employed about 5,000 people in the UK, had received an email inviting them to an event to “celebrate” the anniversary.
Addressed to “Lehman Brothers & Sisters”, the email says: “It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the last of our Lehman days! … One of the best things about Lehman was the people. What better way to celebrate the tenth anniversary than getting everyone from former MDs to former analysts back together again!”
According to Financial News, about 200 former employees are expected to attend the party, which will take place at an undisclosed location in London around the time of the 10th anniversary of Lehman filing for bankruptcy on 15 September 2008. The organisers are said to be aware of how controversial the event will be and are keen to keep the details secret.
McDonnell said the reunion should not be going ahead.
“This is absolutely sickening after a decade of people suffering austerity,” he said in a statement.
“It’s particularly disgraceful in the context of all the people who lost their jobs and homes to pay for bailing out these bankers who caused the financial crash, as well as against a backdrop of firefighters, police officers and other public servants facing years of brutal Tory pay restraint. People will be absolutely disgusted about this unacceptable and highly inappropriate gathering.”
Other Lehman reunions are reportedly being organised in New York and in Hong Kong.
Lehman Brothers was the fourth largest investment bank in America when it collapsed in the largest bankruptcy in US history and its downfall exacerbated a global banking crisis caused by reckless lending. Subsequently governments all over the world spend billions of dollars bailing out other banks, with consequences for public spending still being felt a decade later.
Dennis Grainger, chairman of the Northern Rock Action Group at the UK Shareholders Association, said the Lehman reunion was “in very bad taste”.
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