Should “Sir” Fred “The Shred” Goodwin be sent by extraordinary rendition to prison in Equatorial Guinea, strung up by his wedding tackle, painted in honey and left to hang there while he is eaten slowly alive by mosquitoes and soldier ants?
You might well think so, but I could not possibly agree. First, we must remember that the estimable RBS chief executive has committed no crime whatsoever under English law. Second, the punishment is far, far too good for him.
When I mention these feelings to my more sophisticated friends, they tell me that I am the victim of a cunning government ploy to deflect attention from the REAL villains of Britain’s economic crisis. No I’m not. I hate and blame Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Lord Myners et al, every bit as much as I did before. I just think it would be an awful shame if we missed the opportunity to give Sir Fred “The Shred” the proper kicking he deserves.
Let’s consider the facts. “Fred the Shred” got his nickname by ruthlessly slashing costs at all the companies he worked in. Did he, you wonder, say to any of his dozens – if not hundreds, if not thousands – of sackees as he handed them their P45s: “Och aye the noo, ah ken ye’re the crappest employee we’ve ever had, that ye’ve cost oor business thousands of poonds and tarnished oor company’s reputation forever. But ah’m not a man to bear grudges. Here. This massive pay off and pension package should guarantee you and your wee bairns a life of luxury to the end of your days….”?
Of course he ruddy didn’t. So why should his employers at RBS have treated him any more generously?
And Sir Fred “The Shred” wasn’t just any old rubbish employee. He is, in fact, the most utterly rubbish employee in British commercial history. No one in Britain has ever cost their business so much money. Even “rogue trader” Nick Leeson only cost his bank Barings £827 million. But RBS, thanks in good part to Sir Fred’s recklessness, has just recorded pre-tax losses of £40 BILLION.
So how, pray, can this appalling loser – the sort of person Sir Fred himself would have viewed with the utter contempt in the days when things were going well for him – now justify accepting from his ruined bank an annual £693,000 pension? How can he live with the shame?
Well Sir Fred might be able to. But I don’t think the rest of us should let him. Ever. I know that never forgiving somebody is not the Christian way. But I’m not sure that Christian forgiveness has any place in modern Britain. It belongs to an age when if people did bad – really bad – things, they had the good grace to feel so awful about it their lives become a living hell. Do you see any evidence of that inner torment on Sir Fred’s grinning features? I don’t.
I take it all back. To Equatorial Guinea with the man, at once. And bring on the honey, the mosquitoes and the army ants!