What a week for banking it was. After a period of speculations and public anger building up -would he-should he- RBS CEO Stephen Hester bowed to public pressure and waived his annual bonus. The deep fall from grace for Hester’s predecessor Fred Goodwin came to some sort of conclusion in the form of stripping the former Sir of his knighthood. Cameron and Osborne have disproved yet again that we are not ‘all in it together’. Both the Prime Minister as well as the Chancellor were more or less in favour of Hester receiving his bonus. As in their opinion he did a good job by making thousands of people redundant as part of a restructuring programme to bring the ailing almost-state bank back to financial health and private ownership.Then the Prime Minister was in favour of dishonouring Goodwin. I believe the man is a true disgrace. Not only to banking, but as well to the legal system with his super injunction to cover up his philandering activities. Yet, stripping the man of his knighthood is an empty token. It is supposed to give us the idea that something is being done about bankers excess, while Goodwin is still enjoying a very generous pension and has not been sent to jail. I’m sure people have been locked up for far lesser felonies.
After Lloyds’ CEO waived his annual bonus and mounting public pressure while RBS is still in dire straits, it would have been rather arrogant and very much out of touch for Hester to have excepted his. I fail to understand the argument of ‘in order to attract and retain the best we have to offer highly attractive pay package’. This was the policy prior 2008 yet these ‘very best’ still failed miserably. People using this argument fail the understand that ‘the market’ is not a device that has appeared out of thin air. The market was created by people, is- or at least should be- regulated by people and can therefore be changed by people. Also, a bonus should be a reward for success. Hester might be doing a good job cleaning up the mess Goodwin and company left behind, yet the patient has by no means recovered. Doesn’t the surgeon get paid after she conducted the operation successfully?
No bonus for Hester and Goodwin has to return his piece of royal bling and guess what; the general public is by no means less angry about bankers’ excess because of it. The damage has been done. Whatever a banker does they’re damned if they do, they’re damned if they don’t. So the bashing continues.
top image: the Guardian