- excessive pride or self-confidence.
Remember Blythe Duff, the actress who played Detective Jackie Reid in Taggart whose famous catchphrase, ‘Where’s the body?’ became much parroted. Ten years on Blythe Duff is the narrator in search of the body of capitalism, the rise and fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the biggest bailout in British history, around a trillion pounds, much of it going to prop up the nominally Scottish bank that was too big to fail.
Let’s put that into perspective. A trillion pounds of taxpayer’s money would build ten hospitals the size of the Queen Elizabeth in Glasgow. It would build three new RBS headquarters in Edinburgh at Gogaburn £350 million, attended by the Queen, get you a fly past by the Red Arrows and with a nice view and corporate logos. Her Majesty did ask the difficult question, why did economists not see this coming?
And, equally, she could ask the same question now. No one held to account. Fred Goodwin CEO of RBS kept his index-linked pension of £700 000 a year, but he did lose his knighthood. I’d love to be given that choice, knighthood or £700 000 a year public money for running up one of the biggest debts in history?
The interesting thing about this programme is Fred Goodwin was one of the bosses trust funds trusted. He was an accountant and megalomaniac bully to his workforce that slashed costs and kept buying even when the party was over. I laughed when I heard his nominal boss, Sir George Mathewson, admitted he’d lost a lot of money when Goodwin issued a new tranche of RBS shares worth…nothing now. I’ll chalk that one up for the little guy.
This is an insider account, with all the key players available, with the exception of the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who promised an end to boom and bust. The programme ends on a happy note, if you’re a banker, RBS announced earlier this year that it is, finally, in profit.
I see no profit. I see only loses. The losers have been the poorest in society. The culprits are the Laurel and Hardy of British politics Chancellor George Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron who propagated the malicious lie that the impending collapse of the British economy wasn’t down to banks and bankers, but poor people who like Oliver Twist with a begging bowl kept demanding more. Austerity was not for the rich, but for the poor. This is Britain’s shame. And Laurel and Hardy led us into another fine mess, before disappearing back, like Fred Goodwin, into comfortable prosperity. Only the poor pay the full price of nationalised debt. Too big to fail. Too wee to matter.