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Stripping Fred Goodwin of his knighthood is unfair and won’t change anything

The current chorus of cries for Fred Goodwin to be stripped of his knighthood is an understandable gut reaction to the banking crisis. Whilst the current witch-hunt suits the politicians by giving the impression that they’re actually willing to punish a perpetrator of the banking crisis, it also serves to divert both public and media attention away from their failure to address much trickier issues.

Lord McConnell hits the nail on the head when he says that ‘The reasons for what happened at the banks are more complex than just one person. Fred Goodwin made mistakes, but so did a lot of other people at RBS, including people on the board who also have honours. They appointed him and agreed the strategy and have never been held to account’.

Whilst Goodwin bears a huge amount of responsibility for the RBS collapse, I find the current witch-hunt and cross-party campaign to have him stripped of his knighthood to be both unfair and unashamedly populist. Many others share the blame, including notably the bank’s non-executive directors, its institutional investors and its auditors.

If we are to be even handed about stripping people of their honours, there are plenty of other worthy contenders. How about relieving Lord Stevenson (ex-HBOS chairman), Sir James Crosby (ex-HBOS CEO), Sir Tom McKillop (former RBS chairman), Sir Steve Robson (ex-RBS non-executive director) and Sir Victor Blank (former chairman of Lloyds) of their peerages and knighthoods.

Whilst I am no great fan of Fred Goodwin, neither am I a fan of politicians on the hunt for a scapegoat.

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