UK Politics

Sir Fred no longer

  • 31 January 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
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Arise plain old Fred Goodwin. Sir Fred no longer.

The man who sank a bank - the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland - has been stripped of his knighthood.

It was - formally at least - the Queen who honoured Fred Goodwin in 2004 for services to banking and it was Her Majesty who today decided to dis-honour him.

She, as ever, was acting on the advice of her prime minister who was acting on the recommendation of a shadowy Whitehall committee - the so-called forfeiture committee - chaired by the Head of the Civil Service.

The decisions first to give him a knighthood and then to remove it were, primarily, political decisions.

Tony Blair honoured a man who had built the Royal Bank of Scotland into one of the world's largest banks - with a balance sheet bigger even than the British economy. When RBS crashed, it cost tens of billions of taxpayers' money to stop it collapsing altogether.

David Cameron has been desperate for a symbol that the bankers have paid a price for the economic havoc they have wreaked.

Few are likely to publicly sympathise with Mr Fred Goodwin. They may note though that, unlike others who have had their honours removed, Fred Goodwin has neither been convicted nor charged with any crime.

Some may wonder why the man who was the chief executive of RBS cannot remain a knight when the man who was chairman of RBS or the chairman of HBOS can.

They will surely notice that this announcement comes in the middle of a predictable row about what those still in banking still earn.

What bankers will surely notice and some other senior businessmen too is that politicians who queued up to be their friends have now turned on them with the press and the public cheering them on.

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