So. Fred Goodwin. (Not that I write these well in advance or anything.) The Dark Lord, the Bankermancer, the Harbinger of Financial Destruction, the False Profit… thwarted, annihilated, his gong of power thrown into the fires of Mount Doom by a man-boy and a fat hobbit from Magdalen. If, like me, you have an intellectual/ moral objection to reading tabloid headlines, you might have missed it: last week, the Government stripped Goodwin of his knighthood, and presumably his suit of armour and feudal rights over RBS’s shareholders. This week, he is scheduled to be driven by carriage, in shackles, to Buckingham palace, where the Queen will scream “Treacherous SCUM!” into his ear before bitch-slapping him to the floor and stamping on his head. He will then be dragged off and publicly executed in Trafalgar Square, broadcast live on BBC1 (but you can also catch up later on iPlayer); and afterwards the baying mob will go home and sleep deeply, comfortable in the knowledge that the demagogue who caused the banking crisis and the cuts and global warming and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand is finally dead.
We shouldn’t be fooled by Shredder’s portrayal in the media and in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is not the only person to blame for this typhoon of financial misery :Goodwin is just another Bernie Madoff, a blood sacrifice to the public in the almost certain knowledge that it will sate them, and then business can carry on as usual. Other bankers knighted for their valour in defending our country from economic growth have absolutely nothing to fear.
However, it isn’t really bankers that caused the problem, but banking itself. De-knighting ten of them would only leave ten new spaces at the table in the SPECTRE board room. The biggest worry for me that stems from Fred’s emasculation is not, therefore, that he’s the only one who got a spanking from mother; but rather the ease with which the Prime Minister can snap his fingers and turn the dogs on someone, even someone with a soul as black and shrivelled as Mr. Goodwin’s. De-gonging someone is a pretty big deal, but doing so without giving him two minutes to protest sticks a rather large, greasy finger up at due process. And as sympathetic as it might sound (rest assured though that it isn’t), I’m not sure Cameron has any mandate at all to de-knight someone for ‘just’ greed and incompetence; unless we define a mandate as the latest blood-flecked manifesto of hatred spouted by the Daily Mail. And if the only thing the Government needs in order to get its shaft on is tabloid consent, I’d start to worry.