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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Should Fred lose his knighthood?

In a word - "Yes". He should never have been awarded one in the first place. To give the man an award "for services to banking" merely underlines what a total farce the whole honours system in the UK is. Brian Wilson, ex Scottish Labour MP and long-standing opponent of not just independence but devolution, recently wrote a condemnation of the entire system, pointing out quite justifiably, how it is class based and a means of maintaining the class structure in the UK. It never ceases to amaze me how all those self-styled left wingers in the Scottish Labour Party find their voices to oppose the corruption at the heart of the British political system, only after they have retired from the self-same system that paid them all so handsomely for so many years. I don't know what sickens me more, those who receive the awards, the ones at the very apex of the class structure, or the Labour members who watched for years in silence, while their politcal masters did their best to fill the House of Lords, with those one-time doyens and champions of the working class - the trade union leaders.

A distinction has to be made here, between those who are given the awards and "honours" at the bottom end, the long-serving firemen or dinner ladies, a point made by Wilson, and those at the top end who get the lordships and knighhoods. It is a ludicrous system that rewards those with the deepest pockets or who have worked hard to ensure that the establsihment is preserved - the heads of department in the civil service. There is something intrinsically worthwhile in rewarding people who give selflessly of their time and effort with no expectation of personal gain or even recognition and, if the system did not already exist, it would have to be invented. That is entirely different however, from the mechanism that rewards the biggest party donors or civil servants who have done no more than their job, knowing that so long as they preserve the "system" and keep their noses clean, a "K" will come with the pension. Unfortunately, in this country, it is the same system.

We will now have to observe the machinations of the Forfeiture Committee while it sits in judgement of Sir Fred, knowing that whatever it decides, will do nothing to clear the stink of hypocrisy. For a man who enjoyed the sobriquey "the shred" for his ability to shred the careers of the thousands he made redundant, allegedly would listen to advice from no one and created the biggest financial loss in British business history, driving the world's fifth biggest bank into administration, to receive a "K" for "services to banking" must rank as the greatest irony of all time. But what of those who created the environment and structure that permitted Sir Fred to shred lives, ride roughshod over his contemporaries and - despite siren words of warning - allow his vanity to destroy Scotland's biggest bank? What of Brown who created the financial system that made the banks untouchable or Blair who did so much to perpetuate the Thatcher creed of greed and self-promotion? Is Goodwin to stand alone in the firing line as Blair amasses a personal fortune and Brown goes down in history as the Chancellor who abolished "boom and bust"?

To its credit the SNP has always turned its back on having its party stalwarts rewarded with seats in the "British" House of Lords. In an independent Scotland another structure will have to be created. In the meantime, we have to thole what is there and while the entire nest of privelege could do with being "shredded", Sir Fred will do for a start.

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