Mob rules OK


YEARS ago, before the age of email, I phoned a car company press officer to ask for information about their latest model. She promised to send it and took my name and address.
“It’s … er … Keith Rossiter,” I said in my bumbling way. The next day an envelope landed on my desk, addressed to: “Sir Keith Rossiter”.
That’s OK, you may call me plain “Keith” if you wish: I resisted the fraudulent temptation to adopt that accidental mark of respect.
I have argued for more than two years that Fred Goodwin, the former Royal Bank of Scotland boss, be stripped of the knighthood he was given “for services to banking”, so there was a certain amount of cheering when the forfeiture committee decided to do just that.
Goodwin’s greed brought down RBS in 2008 but Fred “the Shred” as he was no doubt proud to be nicknamed, had already cut a swathe through the banking sector.
His reckless expansionism began with the hostile takeover of NatWest in 2000, where he cut 18,000 jobs in the newly-merged company. That’s 18,000 people on the dole. Nice.
For this and other such murderous business decisions, he was knighted by Tony Blair in 2004 “for services to banking”. You might just as well knight Eric Bloodaxe for services to brain surgery.
Alistair Darling, the Labour Chancellor in 2008, engineered a £45billion rescue package for RBS. When Darling calls the stripping of Fred “tawdry”, perhaps he’s mindful of his own less than glorious role.
RBS is now 80 per cent owned by you and me, the taxpayer, but don’t celebrate: our shares have fallen from a high of more than £20 each at the beginning of 2007 to 28p this week.
Interest at 4 per cent would have paid out more than £5billion over the past three years. Some of the one million young people now out of work might have welcomed the 145,000-a-year minimum wage jobs that could have created.
So when one City executive described the decision as “bowing to the mob”, I’d very much like to know his name. The mob, matey, is us and we’re really quite fed up with being ripped off.
A knighthood is a mark of respect, and the nation has lost respect for you. Welcome, Freddie, to the club that includes disgraced former honorary “knights” like Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. There are a few others, including some sitting in the House of Lords, who belong in that club.

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