The rise of the celebrity banker

I wasn’t going to write about this… in fact, I wasn’t going to write about it 6 or 7 times… but now I am (going to write about it).

The stooshie du jour is the removal of Fred Goodwin’s knighthood.

So what can I write that adds anything to this sorry saga?  Not much – just chucking in my tuppence worth.

First of all I need to declare two things – I don’t know the name of the chairman of our bank and I’m not a fan of the honours system.

When did bankers become celebrities?  It seems that if you’re employed as the Chief Executive of RBS, then celebrity goes with the job.  One was pressurised into waiving his bonus this year, another was stripped of his honour.  The approach of government, other politicians and media in both cases has been hostile, bordering on the vindictive.  These men have been singled out for populist treatment – giving the punters their pound of flesh – because they’re easy targets.  But the shallow, facile tactics have immediately revealed themselves as hollow gestures.

One executive gives up his bonus; all the others keep theirs.

One former banker has his knighthood revoked; all the other bankers, directors, board members and regulators keep theirs.

Justice done?

And.. whatever Fred Goodwin was responsible for during his time at RBS, does he really merit such ferocious vilification?  Where is our compassion?   Where is the quality of mercy?

There is deep hypocrisy here.  Tawdry, petty, snap decisions do not make for good leadership.

The question that I’m left asking is, ‘Who is really dis-honoured in this situation?’


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