Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Politicians? How I laugh at them

With bankers around the world being generally in bad odour as they are, probably correctly, being held responsible for the economic and financial crisis, there has arisen a superb opportunity for politicians to score, as they see it anyway, a few points.

A perfect example is that dour, unimpressive failure, British Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown. Mr P.G. Wodehouse wrote that "It is never difficult to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and a Scotsman with a grievance."

It is never difficult to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and Mr James Gordon Brown MP.

Given the staggering losses amassed by the Royal Bank of Scotland over the past year, and its subsequent "bail-out" by the British Government (taxpayer) Mr Brown is very upset that the erstwhile chief executive of the bank, Sir Fred Goodwin, is receiving a very large pension. Mr Brown, typically playing to the gallery, feels that Sir Fred is not entitled to this pension and says that he is investigating legal remedies to "claw back" Sir Fred's pension. Mr Brown , according to this BBC article, said "The behaviour in the Royal Bank of Scotland, where very substantial additional pension awards were given, is something that makes me angry and will make the public of the country angry," (playing to the gallery of course).

Sir Fred Goodwin
Picture: The Sun

Could this be the very same Mr Gordon Brown, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer, sold off a substantial part of Britain's gold reserves resulting in staggering losses for the country (i.e. the taxpayer)? And was it not Mr Brown who arranged matters such that the bankers were able to proceed with the risky practices that now (not in 2007...) attract such opprobrium? And how was this stupendous demonstration of incompetence punished? Why, they made him Prime Minister! If he is not a hypocrite, Mr Brown will no doubt understand when I state that I consider it entirely unacceptable that failure should be rewarded in this way and that I call on him to resign without delay and of course, sans pension.

Mr Spike Milligan of Goons fame once said "People in glass houses should pull the blinds before removing their trousers." Step forward Mr Brown - or on second thoughts, perhaps not.

A final word concerning Sir Fred and the bankers. During his time as chief executive, Sir Fred built up RBS into the world's fifth-largest bank; the bank was very profitable for some years. Sir Fred also built up a very large pension fund for himself, the last contribution to which, he claims, was authorised by the government last year. The pension fund is therefore Sir Fred's money. He will have used the money to buy an annuity. By what perverted interpretation of justice the government proposes to expropriate him of his personal assets I cannot imagine, but I should watch your wallets if I were you. And it is worth remembering that if Sir Fred pays standard UK income tax, the exchequer will receive something like £250,000 annually, just from the pension income.

Compare Sir Fred's career with that of the disastrous Lord Simpson. Simpson took over from Lord Weinstock as chairman of one of Britain's beacon success stories: GEC. Within five years his brilliant plans had turned this success story into a bankrupt ruin. No doubt he enjoys a fine pension still... (I am guessing but I'll bet I am correct!)

I hold no particular brief for bankers: whilst I accept that banks are necessary I consider them largely as robbers. Nevertheless, better ten Goodwins than one Brown (or Simpson!).

Until the next time

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