in Politics

Sir Fred’s pension

I’ve been mulling over whether I should post something on this for a few days.  I mean, who would speak out in support of Sir Fred Goodwin?  He’s a national enemy.

But I’m have become increasingly concerned about the way this whole issue is being handled by the Government.  This isn’t really an issue about Sir Fred.  It probably isn’t possible to defend that size of pension for failure, but there is no question it is entirely legal.  Harriet Harman herself made the comment that:

It might be enforceable in a court of law this contract but it’s not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that’s where the Government steps in

This is not only bizarre.  It’s worrying.

For a start it was the Government who approved the pension.  Lord Myners approved the deal, either knowing how big the pension was or not even bothering to ask.  It’s also not as if Goodwin’s huge pension was secret until recently; the Dizzy Thinks blog links to a number of media articles dating back to last October on the subject.  And let’s be honest, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the billions the Government are splashing over the public sector.  I’m prepared to bet the recession won’t end a single second earlier if the pension is surrendered.

However indefensible the pension is, it is a diversion.  The government are using it to divert attention from their own failings, and doing it in a particularly unpleasant way.

Sir Fred got his pension legally and with the Government’s consent, and it’s a matter for his conscience how he deals with it.  But the government, from Brown down, seems to be enjoying stirring the mob – suddenly deciding that the court of public opinion is all important.

But oddly, we have representative government when it comes to other issues, the court of public opinion has been ignored over issues like:

  • The war in Iraq
  • The abolition of the 10p tax rate
  • Jacqui Smith’s £100,000 second ‘home’, which is a room at her sister’s house

We might all feel uncomfortable about Sir Fred’s pension, but I feel even more uncomfortable about a government that devotes so much energy to convenient scape-goating one man to distract attention from its own failings.

This rabble-rousing is not driven by principle, if it were then the pension would not have been approved in October, it is driven simply because the court of public opinion puts Labour miles behind in the polls.

COMMENTS I rather expected to be criticised for this post, but it was not to be. However, something in it has attracted spammers like crazy. Rather than delete 40-50 spam comments from this post every day I’ve closed the comments about half-way through the current 60 day commenting period.