Thursday, March 05, 2009
Eamonn Butler is rightly revolted by Harriet Harman's call for mob rule -'the court of public opinion' as she called it. Yes, I'm afraid it's Mandelson's strange distractor, Fred's Pension, again. Great Danny agrees with Butler that he should get his golden 'pot' because a deal is a deal and Harman's law sounds suspiciously like the rule of the mullahs in post-revolutionary Iran. (On his blog, Danny also makes the shrewd point that Fred 'overestimated the marginal value of money'.) In the end, poor Lord Myners signed off on the RBS deal, without noticing or, perhaps, caring about Fred's pot. And now we're keeping Fred in Lafite and S-Classes until he buys the farm - at least 30 years hence, judging by his lean and fit demeanour. But I think there's a tendency in all this to miss the point. Yes, the government screwed up and, yes, it looks as though smirking Fred will come out of this feeling vindicated. But look at what actually happened. RBS was going down the tubes because of some truly idiotic decisions and business practices. Its only hope was the taxpayer and what did they do? They used the confusion as a cover to bung Fred a dirty great pile of wonga. What we need to remember is the appalling grubbiness of this because, if we do remember, we'll demand something very simple - honest bankers. Not much to ask. Is it?
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:53 am