You have to hand it to ‘Sir’ Fred Goodwin over his refusal to contemplate giving some of his £16million pension pot back to the taxpayer. This is a guy who doesn’t care about winning friends and influencing people. It’s bad PR and might even be dangerous for him in the long term: a lot of people are very pissed off about rich bankers walking away unscathed from the wreckage that they engineered of other people’s lives and pensions. The chances of Mr Goodwin being able to walk around unscathed are, I’d say, pretty poor, even in a law-abiding country like Britain. At the very least he could use the services of Max Clifford.
Gordon Brown & Co are beginning to look not just foolish but pathetic. The Prime Minister is reduced to asking Goodwin to do the decent thing and muttering vague threats of retribution if he refuses. But if Goodwin remains adamant and there turns out to be no legal way of forcing him to disgorge some of his ill-gotten gains, Brown will be left looking silly, and his threats will be unmasked as empty rhetoric.
So here’s a modest proposal. For starters, why not strip Goodwin of his knighthood? (He got it for “services to banking”, if you please.) After all, it’s a privilege, not a contractual right.
UPDATE: Just watching Newsnight on BBC2 and knighthood-stripping is now under discussion. But I suggested it on Twitter this morning.