Sometimes, even I have to feel sorry for some indecently rich people. And between chuckles this morning when reading this article, I am sure I could detect just a wee, tiny, infinitesimal twinge of sympathy... or maybe it was lumbago, who knows.
Fred Goodwin, Fred the Shred, and to Gordon Brown and his cronies ‘SIR’ Fred was, until a couple of years ago, a lucky man. Doubtless he had some talent and a lot of drive, having risen from relatively humble beginnings to be the chairman of Scotland’s biggest company, and one of the UK’s big banks (having taken over Williams and Glynn and National Westminster Banks, the latter of which was three times its size).
He was even knighted in 2004 for services to banking, despite, or perhaps because of his ruthless management style which saw him “shred” companies, paring them to minimum staffing levels and maximum profits. Oh, how little they knew!
Well, we all know what happened then. We all know, because the prime minister of the day told us. It all started in America, spread around the entire world, and landed here, in Britain, and North Britain.
Of course those of us with more than one working brain cell knew that that was the usual pile of rubbish that Brown was apt to blether*. What we knew was that in many parts of the world banking and bankers had been allowed to get out of hand; they believed that they had found magical ways of making gold, latter day alchemists if you will... but alchemy is a science that belongs in the 17th century world of “Captain Face”, “Subtle” and “Dol Common”** or maybe even today’s “Harry Potter”. And, as had happened before, it all came crashing down.
And because Freddy boy and his bank had been in the forefront of the alchemy, the seeming possessor of the philosopher’s stone that turned base metal into gold, he came crashing down the harder when the whole banking Ponzi scheme fell apart.
But in the way of these things, Fred picked himself up, dusted himself off, and despite, or maybe because of the intervention of the then Minister for the City, Paul Myners, he trotted off abroad and into the sunset with his knighthood, a pension of gigantic proportions and the prospect of another job in the offing, while the British taxpayer was left with a multi-billion pound bill to pay for the credulity or, stupidity perhaps, of its leaders...and bankers.
However, not all has been rosy for Goodwin, despite his fortune. The size of his pension was revealed as being £700,000, not a bad amount for steering a company downwards to be worth approximately 2% of what it had been worth a few years previously, causing outrage. Then someone used parliamentary privilege to reveal that Freddy was one of the super rich who had paid for a super-injunction. In this case to hide the fact that he had been having an affair with a Royal Bank colleague (supposedly promoted by him well above her level of competency), and as a result of which his wife booted him out of their house.
And now a new book about him, written by two Tory MPs (but politically neutral) promises to be a good read. Finally, and worse still, it will be serialised in a national newspaper... so we’ll all get to know all Freddie’s dirty secrets.
Now anyone feeling twinges?
*Scots word meaning “talk rubbish”
Pic: Fred Goodwin... smirking...