Question is, how much can actually be done? The City's bonus pot is expected to be smaller than it was earlier this year – but that is because of reduced profits, not state action. And when it comes to lending, a full return to growth will achieve more than any amount of harsh rhetoric ever could, or has. As I said on Friday, the government doesn't have many options for implementing proper change in these areas, especially not in the short term. Cable can insist that "you just can't give in [to the banks] the whole time," but the question he hasn't yet answered is: so how will you stand up to them, then?
In truth, the Tories and Lib Dems could reach a productive compromise on the longer-term restructuring of banks in this country – particularly if they follow the principles outlined in the Tories' underrated White Paper from before the election. But that's not going to help Cable & Co. across the next few months. Unless all this talk translates into quick and direct action, then – in the current political climate – this could start looking like another broken Lib Dem promise, of sorts. Stir in the Oldham by-election, and a cheerless New Year is at least a possibility.