Fred Goodwin Knight

February 2, 2012 by staff 

Fred Goodwin Knight, He presided over one of the worst disasters in UK banking history, starting with buying the rump of ABN Amro in 2007 after the market had turned and finishing with the £45bn taxpayer bail-out of RBS, the ramifications of which continue to this day.

And his knighthood – bestowed upon him back in 2004 – was for services to banking. Services which turned out to be rather less worth shouting about than everyone thought at the time.

So we can be pretty certain that if the powers that be could go back in time they would never have ennobled Goodwin in the first place.

But does that mean that the now plain old Frederick Anderson Goodwin really deserves to join the likes of Russian spy Anthony Blunt, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe among the not so exclusive ranks of those who have been stripped of their Knighthoods? The jury is out….

On the one hand, Goodwin’s performance as a banker was undeniably woeful. A litany of bad decisions and poor judgment disguised as swashbuckling merchant venturing found him out in the end, as such deeds will. So extreme an example was he, as Robert Peston has said, that the removal of his title is both hard to argue with and doesn’t set much of precedent.

Neither did his high-handed manner endear him to many before or after the crash – that and his reputation for getting more agitated about the presence or otherwise of pink biscuits in meetings rather than the risks he was taking with the bank will linger. ‘RBS under chief executive Fred Goodwin symbolised everything that went wrong with the British economy’ as George Osborne said. What politician can resist a point of principle on which they can safely stand, secure in the knowledge that it will also win them public support?

On the other hand there are those who think it craven, misguided and anti-business. Former head of the CBI, Lord Jones, said there ‘was a whiff of the lynch mob about it’ and ex-chancellor Alastair Darling said he thought the decision had been taken ‘on a whim.’

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