Thursday 2 February 2012

The unknighted

I’m not a fan of the British Honours system.  The awarding of honours, often related to a long-defunct empire, to ‘ordinary’ people acts as a veneer for an archaic system of power and patronage.
I’m not a fan of Fred Goodwin either.  He was one of the greedy bankers whose poor decision-making caused the collapse of some institutions, made the financial crisis worse, and caused misery for millions.
Add the two together, and I’m hardly likely to shed a tear for him over the removal of his knighthood.  There are, though, some aspects of what happened which leave me with an uneasy feeling.
The first is the pretence that the decision was made by the monarch on the recommendation of some independent committee of senior civil servants who assessed his case and found it to be so severe that he, and he alone, should be unknighted (or perhaps deknighted?).  If there was ever a political decision, this was it.  Politics was of the essence here, with the need to respond to the outrage whipped up by the tabloid media.  The idea that this decision was made in an entirely unbiased way by civil servants is simply not credible.
The second is the arbitrariness of the decision.  There seems to be no sense of careful weighing of the pros and cons, considering precedent, or looking at other, equally – if not more – undeserving cases.  Even rich and greedy individuals are surely entitled to some sort of due process which doesn’t single them out on an arbitrary basis in response to the baying of the mob.
The third is the feeling that he’s been scapegoated; sacrificed on the altar of public opinion to atone for the sins not only of himself but of others too.  It’s as if the Establishment somehow believe that by throwing one of their own to the wolves, the wolves will be sated and will not come after the rest of them.
And the worst aspect of all is that I have a horrible suspicion that  the Establishment will be right to think that, they’ll get away with the sacrifice, and the cosy little system will then carry on as if nothing had happened.


Unknown said...

There was a list published recently of all those people who have turned down honours over the years.

Full list

Back on topic I wonder if this doesn't set a precedent. Fred Goodwin was given an honour for being good at what he does. Then he had it taken off him for being rubbish at what he did.

What happens to a sports person, say Zara Phillips for example. She was good at what she did and was given an MBE. Then she broke her horse and had to pull out of the Olympics but still kept her MBE.

What about Martin Johnson. Won a world cup as a player, given a CBE. Turns his country in an absolute disgrace on and off the field and gets to keep it.

Yes these are tongue in cheek but where is the continuity?

You mean there's more??? said...

What about hittin peopele where it hurts and taking his 300k ension off him, that he might notice not being Sir Fred will hardly dent his day. Then again is anyone deserving of a 300 K pension, well maybe a few street cleaners dinner ladies and nurses who have slogged all their lives not a banker whose usual lunch stop is the Ritz