Thursday, 3 December 2009

Incompetent, greedy RBS wasters need to get a grip on reality

So the RBS directors are playing hardball over bonuses. Now, I actually had a lot of sympathy for Fred Goodwin. He was turned into a national pariah for destroying the world which Gordon Brown had to go and save (ah bless). To be honest, in his position as the most hated man in Britain, I'd have taken all the pension I could muster and hopped off to Spain to enjoy the rest of my life, as well; it's not like he single-handedly ruined the financial system, although to read the papers, you think he did.

This is different. RBS want to pay £1.5bn in bonuses to investment banking staff. And the directors are throwing their toys out of the pram - threatening to quit if the government vetoes it. Sorry lads: you don't call the shots any more. You've had your opportunity to run things, and blown it. Now, it's a case of put up or shut up.

Vince Cable, as usual, has called it right. The government should accept the resignations of the directors. If ever there was a tainted CV, it was one which says "RBS Director" at the top. And that's what the whole issue is about: retaining talent.

Paying decent salaries in the public sector is most certainly an issue, because talented people can earn multiple times their salary by making a move to the private sector. So I can understand the BBC's massive salaries (for executives, not on-screen talent; moving from BBC News to ITV News is unlikely to get you a pay rise). But apart from a lucky few, all the banks are skint; and moving abroad is an empty threat. There are plenty of talented people who would jump at the chance to do twice as good a job as the current crop of bankers, for half the money. The goalposts have shifted; it's time the bankers had a good look at themselves and look up "bonus" in the dictionary while they're about it. A bonus is a reward for outstanding performance. Judging from the catastrophic mess created in the last few years, "outstanding performance" has been thin on the ground recently. The bankers can quit their whingeing and get on with their jobs.

Oh, and one final point: the amounts of taxpayers' money going into inept bankers' pockets put the odd thousand here and there claimed by Tory MPs for their duck houses into the shade. I wish the media would put things in perspective sometimes.

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