The media are taking great delight in naming
Sir Fred Goodwin, now stripped of his knighthood. Sir Fred is said to have brought the so-called honours system into disrepute. In being dishonoured, he joins an altogether more select group: people convicted of serious criminal offence, or outed as Soviet spies. Not that even serious crimes disqualify you: chattering classes may have questioned Jeffrey Archer’s peerage, but he’s just one prominent case in a system where honours for criminals are perfectly normal.
But there’s no suggestion he belongs in that group: rather he got super-rich as a leader of the credit boom, with a perfectly legal license to print billions backed by thin air. Shouldn’t that put him firmly in the regular group: people whose honours are not in question?
Evidently what really brings the honours system into disrepute is not
Sir Fred himself, but the odour of (deservedly) bad press that surrounds him and his obscene pension. As usual, getting caught is the real crime. He’s been scapegoated.
(Aside: his successor Stephen Hester is being scapegoated too: in the pocket, where it matters. Well OK, he’s a long way from the breadline, but he’s an individual taking a hit on behalf of his ultra-bloated business.)
Do I feel sorry for
Sir Fred’s dishonour? No!
Do I sense gross establishment hypocrisy in the act? Yes!
Sir Fred needed to be stripped not of the knighthood but of that pension: the reward for failure that everyone else can now trot out in support of their own demands – whatever those might be. And maybe he should be joined by some of those who presided over the bubble and eventually gave him the pension rather than put his bank into administration where debts like that pension liability could’ve been capped.