Dunno if taking back Fred Goodwin’s knighthood means Her Majesty now has a spare gong to dish out. If so, Alf will be putting up his hand and saying me, me, me…
He will do this very discreetly, so as not to draw attention to his somewhat desperate yearning for a title, but as his mates know, he has long fancied being called Sir Alfred Grumble and the missus – just quietly – would like to be known as Lady Grumble.
Meantime he has had a look at newspaper coverage of the events that have turned Sir Fred into plain old Fred.
He refers, of course, to Fred Goodwin, the former boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland who was Sir Fred Goodwin until this week.
Many ratbags are given knighthoods, a matter that profoundly mortifies your hard-working member for Eketahuna North. And many knights go on to become even bigger ratbags.
But titles are removed only from your Class One ratbags: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, for example, Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, and Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (who lost his honour the day before he was executed).
So what has made Fred a Class One ratbag?
The NZ Herald is somewhat sparse with its background on the feller.
The Herald gives us a bit of background on the feller.
Goodwin, nicknamed “Fred the Shred” for his ruthless management style, became a pariah after the government bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008, at a cost so far of 45.5 billion pounds ($NZ86.5b) on it.
Is that it?
Governments have bailed out lots of banks and Alf imagines that if you did not have a ruthless management style, you would not get to be boss of a bank, let alone the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The Herald goes on to say that Britain is on the brink of recession once again, and attention accordingly has returned to the behaviour of bankers blamed for the financial storm, particularly at RBS.
The British taxpayer owns 82 per cent of that outfit nowadays.
And so –
Amid growing calls for Goodwin to be punished further, the government announced late Tuesday that he would be stripped of the knighthood awarded him by Queen Elizabeth II for services to banking in 2004.
A statement from the government said Goodwin “had brought the honours system into disrepute”, adding that “the scale and severity of the impact of his actions as CEO of RBS made this an exceptional case.”
But in a previous post, Alf highlighted the small fact that Fred became a national pariah after it emerged he was allowed to retire at 50 with a £703,000-a-year pension, at a time when the RBS was needing a £20 billion taxpayers’ bailout after his time in charge.
And let’s not forget why The Daily Mirror dubbed Fred “The Shred” Goodwin “Fred The Bed”.
He copped that title after trying to gag the media and hide some rumpy-pumpy from City watchdogs – as well as his wife.
His promotion of his mistress, a married mother with a young child, invited questions about favouritism, professionalism and judgement.
Accordingly, Alf was bemused to read in the NZ Herald today that some people think the stripping of Fred’s knighthood marks a new high in `banker bashing’ sparked by the financial crisis.
Actually, it seems some business figures are asking if the banker bashing has gone too far.
Perhaps that’s because the annulment of Fred’s knighthood came at the end of a week when political pressure had also forced the RBS’s current chief, one Stephen Hester, to waive his £963,000 pound annual bonus.
Whatever the reason –
The former head of the business lobby group CBI, Digby Jones, said: “There is a whiff of the lynch mob on the village green about this.
“Fred Goodwin has not been charged with, nor had anything examined in a court, nor found guilty of anything.”
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, also expressed concern about “anti-business hysteria” in the decision to remove the honour.
Sir Jackie Stewart, the former Formula 1 world champion, reckons his friend Fred has been made a scapegoat.
“No single person or even any single bank created the biggest financial recession in modern times. To have this stripped I think is poor for the constitution and very dangerous for the future,” Stewart told BBC TV.
But Alf doesn’t think banker bashing can ever go too far and anyone who sympathises with bankers should try persuading some of the hard-hearted bastards to cough up a loan when it’s desperately needed.
In the case of Eketahuna, of course, we can’t even persuade the buggers to set up shop here, to look after townspeople’s money for them and do what bankers are supposed to do for their customers.
Accordingly Alf has a jaundiced view of them and is taking some smug satisfaction in agreeing with those who say Fred Goodwin’s fate should serve as an example to encourage the banking industry to put its house in order.