Cometh the man. Cometh the hour.
With the International Monetary Fund’s reputation a tad tarnished after Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s resignation over a sexual assault charge, who, oh who can take up the baton and save the honour of this multinational institution?
Step forward, ex-RBS high heid yin Sir Fred “The Shred” Goodwin, who has thrown his hat into the ring with a masterstroke – as it were.
After Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham raised the issue under parliamentary privilege, we now hear that Sir Fred took out a superinjunction to silence claims that he was “making deposits” with a senior colleague at the now publicly owned RBS.
Lord Stoneham said: “Would [the speaker] accept that every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland?
“So how can it be right for a injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague? If true it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would know about it.”
Now, I have no idea what the truth is about Goodwin’s private life. I do not know if he and the alleged colleague were giving new meaning to the terms “accord and satisfaction” and “institutional liquidity transfers”. I am not one of his intimates and have a team of very expensive lawyers ready to bankrupt anyone who says (or even thinks) different.
His record is clear, though. The former RBS heid bummer (a idiomatic colloquialism not covered by any injunctions, super or otherwise) enthusiastically axed the livelihoods of little people, he gambled recklessly in pursuit of short-term profit and then screwed the pooch (a metaphor not covered by any injunctions, super or otherwise) to the extent that the bank had to be nationalised, costing you, me and every British citizen hunerts and hunerts of pounds.
Goodwin has now embraced a hated legal instrument inimical to freedom of speech, which is available only to the wealthy. The best bit is that, as much of his wealth derives from payments from the nationalised bank, you paid for the superinjunction. Ain’t that dandy? We pay for the privilege of not being allowed to know what happened at the bank we saved at crippling expense.
Anyone familiar with the record of the IMF can see immediately that Goodwin is a great fit with its mission to screw up developing countries in the name of western monetarism.
Right, now I’ve had my fun I’m going to do something surprising: I’m going to defend Fred Goodwin.
There is a great lie being foisted on us. It is this: that in some way Goodwin is a “bad apple” or an aberration. That is what the Neocons would regard as a “useful fiction” to blind the great unwashed to an uncomfortable truth.
Are you ready? Goodwin’s not unique, exceptional or even unusual. His actions at RBS were entirely in line with global corporatism. His only failure was that he was unlucky. The problem is the game. Not just this particular player.
Stock market-driven business demands ruthless job-cutting in the interest of share prices. The City applauds reckless adventurism. The “players” get massive perks. The “little people” get (mis)sold worthless products and charged £6 a day if their accounts go into the red.
Sure, we can laugh at the guy but there are thousands of Goodwins in the City of London and around the world. And they are laughing at us as they trouser outrageous bonuses.
They then have the cheek to tell us that if they and their employers face proper taxation, then all this “talent” will flee the country.
Tell you what, I’ll give them a lift to the airport.
I don’t care about Goodwin’s private life: that’s between him, his missus and any alleged partners. We can pretend that naughtiness in the trouser department may have brought down RBS. But it didn’t. And nor did Fred Goodwin.
What brought down RBS was a game that still goes on. A game played with our savings by organisations largely owned by us.