Fred Goodwin is under assault because he has the temerity to refuse to give up his pension after the failure of RBS, which I think is completely justified. What are we to say, that we can remove somebody’s life savings because he/she has been found guilty in the court of public opinion? The man has a pension guaranteed by contractual obligation, and simply because the bank did badly does not mean there is any legal or moral justification to try and take it away. If he did a bad job then take away his bonus, even charge him with a crime if he committed one, and if he is convicted then maybe there’s a case. If not, then fire him and let him retire – on his pension.
If the government pursues this case and wins then it will set the precedent that if someone does a bad job that all they’ve worked for their entire life can be taken away from them with the stroke of a pen which, besides being an infringement of human rights and diabolically vindictive, would not exactly encourage people to take positions in the UK. Bonuses are there to encourage hard work and success, and pensions are there to make sure that people can retire without being poor. If we take away these benefits or make them subject to popular whim then we will be ensuring that the best and the brightest go elsewhere in the world to make their fortune which would destroy the UK finance sector.
How much money has been spent on this argument already? OK, the guy has a £16 million pension, does that mean that the government is going to spend millions to make him give it up? In the midst of the world’s worst financial crisis in a century are we really saying that arguing about one man’s pension no matter how big is a good use of the government’s time?! All the parties are pandering to public opinion and not one of them is saying what needs to be said which is that this is a waste of effort! This is cowardice of the most pathetic kind, and I’m ashamed to see Gordon Brown, who is not exactly blameless in this matter, telling the world that he’s going to set the dogs on one man simply because of the front page of The Sun. It is simply not fair or equitable!
If you are looking to blame people for this crisis you will have a long list as there are many people who jumped on this band wagon and many other people who didn’t stop it rolling. The FSA is the government body responsible for managing financial institutions and they were asleep at the wheel. I certainly didn’t hear any of the political parties shouting that there needed to be reform and controls when things were good, and now they’re clamoring for punitive measures against those they were supposed to guide. It’s pathetic! Have the courage to say we screwed up. In a witch hunt everybody’s glad to be burning their neighbors because it keeps other neighbors from looking their way and it’s no different with this matter.
If I were Sir Fred when Gordon Brown asks him to give up his pension my response would be “you first.”