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Fred the Pleb
February 1, 2012 6:18 AM   Subscribe

The erstwhile Sir Fred "The Shred" Goodwin, former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland has been stripped of the knighthood awarded to him in 2004 for "services to banking". The move has been met with predictable glee by the popular press, but has been criticised by business and political figures as well as some newspaper comment. Goodwin joins the somewhat dubious club of those who have been stripped of UK honours, including notables such as Mugabe, Mussolini and Ceauesescu amongst other less famous but equally tawdry figures.
posted by Jakey (40 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
How compassionate. She might have taken away his manhood.
posted by hat_eater at 6:23 AM on February 1, 2012


what a relief!
posted by telstar at 6:26 AM on February 1, 2012


Does this mean he's exiled from Asgard now or?
posted by The Whelk at 6:27 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now, if only RBS could follow-suit and revoke his severance.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:30 AM on February 1, 2012


Fascinating that the term of disgrace seems to be "shredded."
posted by eriko at 6:34 AM on February 1, 2012


I can't help but think he got dishonoured as a result of doing the same things for which he was honoured in the first place. He didn't change the way he worked, he just presided over a massive loss.
posted by knapah at 6:37 AM on February 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Scary times when financial dishonesty or incompetent financial management is put on the same level as mass murder.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 6:39 AM on February 1, 2012


Mark my words, when the banking talent flees the UK, we'll all have to get out of our jacuzzis and start making things again. Think on that, Britain, think on that as you persecute your one-time heroes.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


In my eyes, to award knighthoods for "services to banking" is quite akin to awarding them for "services to plundering and pillaging".

Which, on the other hand, is what knighthoods originally used to be awarded for, as a matter of fact. Plus ça change...
posted by Skeptic at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's a bad decision and the worse kind of pandering to popular politics.

He doesn't deserve his knighthood, to be sure. If they were regularly given away and taken back I'd have no issue with it.

But revoking knighthoods should be for proper crimes. To put this in context, Jeffrey Archer, a man convicted and imprisoned for perjury, still sits in the House of Lords.

For that matter giving them should be for proper service to one's country. Goodwin is part of a much larger, uglier malaise that involves all political parties: the substantial lowering of standards for conferring knighthoods and the tawdry business of conferring life peerages on party toadies, failing MPs and political donors.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:42 AM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


The move has been met with predictable glee by the popular press, but has been criticised by business and political figures...

The "businesses are the only serious commentators on public affairs" tone of this sentence is weird and disturbing.
posted by DU at 6:43 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


But at least things are still good for Baron Black of Crossharbour? What a relief!
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:46 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


the substantial lowering of standards for conferring knighthoods and the tawdry business of conferring life peerages on party toadies, failing MPs and political donors

For the standards to have been lowered, they'd have to have been high in the first place. See this NYT article dating from 1911, concerning the "Canada Cement" securities scandal?
W.M. Aitken, the "young Canadian financier from Montreal" mentioned there who had already absconded to England fleeing the scandal, would be knighted the following year and receive a peerage just 6 years later, as Lord Beaverbrook.
posted by Skeptic at 6:52 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


A childish gesture, for a childish people. Not that he deserved a knighthood mind you, but he's hardly the only one. Several members of the RBS board as well as a number of senior civil servants involved in regulating it also have knighthoods.
posted by atrazine at 6:53 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Muffin Man is dead right. We shouldn't be giving out awards to people for doing their regular jobs, for which they are already paid for (very well-paid in this case). But equally, there's no particular reason to revoke this particular one.

Seems it was always thus, though:

"But now alas its grown ridiculous,
Since bought with money, sold for basest prize,
That some refuse it, which are counted wise."

(That's John Day, writing about the abuse of the honours system, around the time of Shakespeare).
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:54 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So how's Gove's Gong Quest going these days ?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:55 AM on February 1, 2012


I'm against titles as a whole, even Mr, Mrs, and Miss, so one less is good. Another less would be better.

Mark my words, when the banking talent flees the UK, we'll all have to get out of our jacuzzis and start making things again. Think on that, Britain, think on that as you persecute your one-time heroes.

Oh, the horror, we'll have to follow the economic model which has been so disastrous for the Germans. Roll on the stunde null...
posted by Jehan at 6:58 AM on February 1, 2012


Oh wait, your comment was ironic wasn't it? I couldn't tell, because some people really believe that offering a future of manufacturing jobs to the working-class is somehow a threat.
posted by Jehan at 7:02 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The last time I can remember this happening was with (Sir) Jack Lyons in the late 80s. That particular incident was quite different of course, as it was more clearly criminal, although at the time the revocation of the knighthood was treated very apologetically by the government.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:07 AM on February 1, 2012


Or since it's no longer the 15th century, maybe stop awarding knighthoods altogether? No? Ah. Ok then.
posted by emjaybee at 7:12 AM on February 1, 2012


The Guardian article listing people who've lost their knighthood seems to omit Anthony Blunt.

Of course, the Guardian can't really be expected to be experts on the ins and out of knighthood, eh?
posted by Jahaza at 7:47 AM on February 1, 2012


Doh... since 1995! I see.
posted by Jahaza at 7:48 AM on February 1, 2012


Well, it's all good now. Innit?
posted by three blind mice at 8:21 AM on February 1, 2012


Didn;t Naseem Hamed actually kill somebody in the chain of events that lost him his title? Though he also lost the 'Prince' from his ring name, so it must have been doubly painful.

This is an interesting contrast. Mick Jagger refused honours until he got the knighthood; Alan Bennett refused all of them. (Weirdly, a cousin of mine has an OBE, which makes me wonder how my family would react if I turned one down. Not that I anticipate making the decision any time soon...)
posted by mippy at 9:39 AM on February 1, 2012


Never mind the huge bonuses being paid to bankers right now, we're stripping that one guy you've heard of and don't like of a meaningless title. We're on your side.
posted by IanMorr at 9:55 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never mind the huge bonuses being paid to bankers right now, we're stripping that one guy you've heard of and don't like of a meaningless title. We're on your side.

Straight up! Everybody knows you have to be at least a Baronet to get anywhere nowadays.
posted by Jehan at 10:09 AM on February 1, 2012


He's just plain Fred Badloss now.

Do understand the concerns about the populist and rather arbitrary nature of this particular decision, but I've also been amused by the double standards of some of those I've heard or read defending him in the media over the last couple of days.

By and large the same people who tell us that people like Goodwin have to be paid forty gazillion pounds and the first-born child of every family because theirs is an individual talent so rare, so exceptional, that without their unique and exceptional skills the banks and businesses would crumble, that there should be no discussion of their bonuses because they've earned them by the direct and stunning personal contribution that they have made...are the same people who are now doing the rounds of the TV and radio studios bleating that this is unfair because after all, RBS wasn't just Fred Goodwin, and there were many other people involved in the bad decisions, and the FSA should have stopped him from going ahead with a bad decision, and besides, a big boy made him do it and then ran away.
posted by reynir at 10:41 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fucker should be in prison, never mind losing his meaningless bullshit title.
posted by Decani at 11:16 AM on February 1, 2012


Also.

It is time to call these fuckers' bluffs. I've worked with them. I worked with them in the eighties, when they first started to go overboard with this "We're so fucking special you have to pay us millions and bonuses made of gold and unicorn tears" bullshit. They're nasty little chancers, that's all. Nasty, clever, smarmy, smug little gets who have the advantage of being entirely untroubled by anything resembling a sense of decency or morality.

Call their bluff.

Oh, will you really fuck off to New York if we don't pay you about 5,000 times the annual salary of a nurse every week? Okay then, FUCK. OFF. TO. NEW. YORK. We'll take the chance. We'll take the chance that maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to find a decent manager/MD/CEO/Whatever who is moral enough to work for a sane and morally reasonable wage, and at least capable enough not to royally fuck up the economy like you did, Mr. Oh-I'm-So-Indispensable.

Go on. Fuck off to New York. Let's see how long it takes before they see through you too.
posted by Decani at 11:25 AM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Go on. Fuck off to New York. Let's see how long it takes before they see through you too.

This won't work. You see their job is to be the credulous idiots that the conmen in New York sell stuff to.
posted by srboisvert at 12:38 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


This won't work. You see their job is to be the credulous idiots that the conmen in New York sell stuff to.

Ouch. If we could condense this into a tshirt shaped slogan, it could be a winner in England.
posted by Jehan at 12:57 PM on February 1, 2012


Its good that the UK can strip bankers of their symbolic knighthood. In the US, we just let them get away with wrecking our economy. If, like the US you won't do anything punitively, at least you can remove the sembalance of honor he was bestowed.

Your politicians have done more nothing than the nothing that we've done on this side of the pond - credit where credit is due.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:37 PM on February 1, 2012


Oh, will you really fuck off to New York if we don't pay you about 5,000 times the annual salary of a nurse every week? Okay then, FUCK. OFF. TO. NEW. YORK.

5.2 bio pounds a year...yeah that's about the UK tax on this years bonus pool( productivity brought to the UK by "these fuckers"... which pays for 260,000 nurses for the rest of the residents of the country

Mitt Romneys tax 13%. PAYE banker bonus tax 75%

I can see the appeal, but sadly most of the jobs are being relocated to Mumbai, not NY
posted by fistynuts at 2:09 PM on February 1, 2012


5.2 bio pounds a year...yeah that's about the UK tax on this years bonus pool( productivity brought to the UK by "these fuckers"... which pays for 260,000 nurses for the rest of the residents of the country

Mitt Romneys tax 13%. PAYE banker bonus tax 75%


Would you like to quantify the cost of the financial sector to the UK? And then narrow your analysis down to only the rotten parts which cause all the trouble? And then provide a moral argument why citizens of this country should accept the "gift" of nurses that comes from such a troublesome source? And then further explain why in a democratic society even serious discussion about reforming part of the economy should be off the table with barely a "don't scare the city away!" hushing of dissent? And then come up north of England to witness how large parts of the country are in relatively poor condition, despite the promise of prosperity from financial services? And then, in the very end, at least allow us to choose our own fate, even if you disapprove and think it foolish, though so many of us right now just want to feel in control of a country which feels occupied by a hostile economic elite?
posted by Jehan at 2:42 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


5.2 bn/year? You're aware that that sum is dwarfed by all estimates of the bank bailouts' cost to the British taxpayer (who, BTW, is supposed to own many of those banks now)?
Mumbai, eh? Enjoy the curry.
posted by Skeptic at 2:45 PM on February 1, 2012


Skeptic: From your quoted article It costs taxpayers up to £5bn a year just to service the loan that the crisis incurred.

Dwarfed by the amount of money lent to banks perhaps, not the bank bailouts' cost. Don't you think a better time to have been discussing this with the politicians was when they were deciding to bail the banks out? Or before when your beloved Labour were presiding over the economy and bank regulation?

Jehan: I don't remember suggesting dictatorship as a solution and having had to emigrate in order to get work, I don't need to travel to witness the conditions. This isn't serious discussion about reforming part of the economy this is reactionary

A statue of Fred Goodwin with his title intact should be erected in Parliment Square as a reminder of all involved of their folly. He's been personally vilified enough at this stage

... the time for everybody to have been shouting abuse at him was when he was making the mistake, but they were probably in the pub with me.
posted by fistynuts at 3:28 PM on February 1, 2012


Shut up. They punished the bad man and now he's sorry and everything will be OK again.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 PM on February 1, 2012


On the bright side, this led me to a fascinating Wikipedia page, List of revocations of appointments to orders and awarded decorations and medals of the United Kingdom. Who knew there were so many? I feel sorry for the soldier who was stripped of his Victoria Cross for stealing a cow.
posted by verstegan at 3:58 PM on February 1, 2012


Dwarfed by the amount of money lent to banks perhaps, not the bank bailouts' cost.

Old talking point, and wrong. The money lent to banks was indeed huge (the article mentions liabilities of up to £1.2 trillion), but the net cost is also several orders of magnitude higher than 5.2 billion.

Even without taking into account the cost of the crisis to the wider economy, the government had to do more than just lend money. In many cases it had to take equity in the banks, and much of that money is simply gone, presumably for ever. As the article mentions:

The UK taxpayer bought 90.6bn shares in RBS at 50.53p a share – an outlay of around £45.8bn.
• By March this was worth 36.97bn
• Today one share in RBS is worth 21.25p leaving the government's stake valued at around £19bn. This is 41.5% reduction since the deal was done.


That's a hit of 27 billion, just for Fred the Shred's own bank. How many nurses would that have paid for? How can anybody be receiving bonuses in companies that are destroying shareholder value at that rate?

Don't you think a better time to have been discussing this with the politicians was when they were deciding to bail the banks out?

Hardly: the proponents of the bailouts were right. The banks were too big to fail. Unfortunately, nothing much has been done to correct that fundamental problem.

Or before when your beloved Labour were presiding over the economy and bank regulation?

"My beloved Labour"?! I'm not even British in the first place, and I hold Tony Blair and Gordon Brown more or less in the same regard as lintworms, not least for what they did (and blocked or fail to fo) on financial regulation at the British, European and international levels.
posted by Skeptic at 2:20 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]



I'd let the Queen spank me for £100. She doesn't need the city.
posted by srboisvert at 8:20 AM on February 2, 2012


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