Iain Dale: the state should not be bound by law
What kind of mindset leads to someone authorising an annual pension of £650,000 for a man who has presided over one of the biggest banking failures in British history? And what does it say about Sir Fred Goodwin that he accepted such an outrageous pension? The answer is simple in both cases. It demonstrates that those who led RBS to the brink of failure have learned little from the experience and believe that it's business as usual.
Oh for fuck's sake... Where to start?
First, the pension agreement will have been made previous to the fuck-up, so it's hardly as though RBS haven't learned: it is simply that they respect the law of contract.
It may not have been a very good contract, but the business has to stick to it. Because, you see, that's the way that the law works.
As Timmy says...
Pensions are deferred compensation. This is part of the contract that he signed all those years ago.
It may not have been a very good contract, it might be that we or you or even they wish it had not been signed in the form it was, but it is indeed a contract.
And tearing up contracts, abandoning the rule of law, is really not an action or activity that is going to help us in the future.
Let us imagine that I was an investor in... ooh... let's say, an internet TV station. And let's say that I had agreed to pay Iain a salary of £50,000. OK? Then let's imagine that lots of people had fucked up (not least in failing to realise a revenue stream) and that, having poured a lot of money into the project, I had decided to close it.
Would Iain think it fair that I demand £40,000 of his salary back? Iain might argue that this wasn't in the contract, that his payment was a salary and not performance-related and that, under the terms of the contract, I had no right to demand its repayment.
What should I then do?
Sir Fred Goodwin should be shamed into renouncing this pension, and if he has no shame, then Parliament should act to take it away from him.
Translation: if Goodwin does not act in a way that accords with Iain's personal sympathies, then the state should simply over-turn the law. Essentially, Iain's personal morals should take precedence over contract law.
I have lost a good chunk of money in RBS shares—that is entirely my fault. Whilst I am very flattered that Iain wishes to fight for my honour, personally I am not so stupid as to advocate that we overturn some basic laws so that I can get revenge.
Still, it is nice to see that Iain agrees with Gordon Brown and his badger-faced sock-puppet...
Chancellor Alistair Darling urged failed banking boss Sir Fred Goodwin to give up his £650,000 pension today – threatening legal action if he fails to act voluntarily to end the controversy.
It is, after all, instructive to see how skin-deep the Tories' idea of liberty is, and what little difference there really is between the two main political parties.
And it is a very neat illustration of why personal morals should never be allowed to be involved in the making (or breaking) of laws.
So, grow up, Iain, and try to see the wider picture.
UPDATE: fair play to Iain for publishing an amendment.
I suspect I should have allowed my head to write that blogpost, rather than my heart.
I should make it clear—although fuck knows that I shouldn't need to—that I find The Shred's pension arrangements deeply fucking irritating—especially when his fuck-ups have deprived me of thousands of pounds. However, you cannot tear down the law on a whim, as that oft-quoted passage from A Man For All Seasons so eloquently states.
"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down—and you're just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"
And the government in question is NuLabour: these fuckers do not need any encouragement to flatten the laws that protect us. For fuck's sake, don't give them any rope, for they won't hang themselves with it—they will hang us...
UPDATE 2: oh, Iain, you shouldn't have (yes, your humble Devil is a vain man and flattery will get you everywhere).
And I'm sure that my alma mater will be simply thrilled to have such a distinguished ambassador. Ahem...