The artist and financial genius formerly known as “Sir Fred”
Former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin has had his knighthood removed. Mr Goodwin, who was heavily criticised over his role in the bank’s near-collapse in 2008, was given the honour by the Labour government in 2004. The Queen cancelled and annulled the title following Whitehall advice. Party leaders, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, welcomed the decision. In the past, only convicted criminals or people struck off professional bodies have had knighthoods taken away. However this is empty gesture politics taken to new levels of hollow sounding stupidity. Fred Goodwin committed no crime through his level of business acumen is highly questionable. Gordon Brown was responsible at the Treasury at the time of RBS yet he did not push for a Competition Commission investigation into the RBS takeover of NatWest. Fred the Shred is still a fine upstanding Chartered Accountant.
Personally, I don’t give an aerodynamic fornication whether Fred is Sir Fred or No Fred. It is totally irrelevant and a distraction from reality deliberately engineered by PR Dave and the ConDems. What is relevant is the disabled, the poor and marginalised are having the costs of the Casino Banking Crisis imposed on them, UK Banks and Credit Card providers are margin widening to rip-off customers to earn their “recovery bonuses” and not a single person (aka previous Pigs with their snouts deeply in troughs) has been convicted of reckless trading and gone to jail. Meanwhile UK Taxpayer (you and me) has paid £120 Bn directly for shares in broke banks and paid £176 Bn in “liquidity support.” That’s £14,800 for every UK taxpayer.
Throughout the developed world policies have avoided addressing the causes of the crisis to making public service workers pay for a crisis they have not caused, nor contributed to. Public sector workers are now systematically put into the firing line. They are used by policy makers to resolve the crisis and balance the books letting speculators and international finance off the hook. The latter have returned to pre-crisis days of large profits and massive bonuses. Governments are trying to make most workers pay more and work longer for less, even after this month’s modest concessions. That isn’t to fund pensions because people are living longer, but to help pay off the deficit run up to bail out the banks and the crisis they triggered. The 3.2% contributions hike is a tax on a workforce whose living standards have already been heavily squeezed by repeated pay freezes. Pensions aren’t a perk, but deferred pay. Protecting pay and conditions is what unions are for.
The UK Government has behaved like a drunken sailor in spending money on things which provide no return to the UK Economy, such as fighting bogus and immoral wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, shoring up the banking system with £300m of “liquidity” and £172m on direct stakes in stricken banks, many of which are on the bonus trail again. During all this time Big Business has £70Bn “in dispute” with the tax authority’s, Britain still controls 23 tax havens and still tolerates the nonsense and legalistic fiction of “Non-Doms.” To fund it, the Government borrowed a monumental £170.8 billion last year. If all goes well, we’re set to borrow another £167.9 billion this year.
This kind of deficit is far greater than during the recessions of the 80s and early 90s and even higher than when Britain went cap in hand to the IMF in 1976. This isn’t money saved for a rainy day. Because we continued to rack up debt in the good years, this excess spending spree is fuelled by one big borrowing binge. This is an ideological battle against a vision of society that appeals to justice and fairness. If the policies continue as they are, it will mean a rolling back of the welfare state and the creation of model solely based on neoliberal principles. Is this what Europe is all about?