Darling leads criticism of Goodwin decision

Posted on February 3, 2012

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English: Alistair Darling, British politician ...

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written for New Statesman – words by Robert Pollard

Former Labour Chancellor disapproves of government move.

The decision to strip Fred Goodwin of his knighthood has been criticised by former Chancellor Alistair Darling, who described the move as “tawdry” and taken “on a whim”.

Darling led a chorus of discontent from various high-profile figures who questioned whether the removal of the former RBS boss’ honour was the correct ruling.

Darling said:

There is something tawdry about the government directing its fire at Fred Goodwin alone; if it’s right to annul his knighthood, what about the honours of others who were involved in RBS and HBOS?

If policy is not based on principle but is about individuals, the government will carry on being blown in the wind.

Committees can see the way the wind is blowing. I think the minute he was referred, the outcome was inevitable.

I’m not here to defend Sir Fred… I just think we’re getting into awful trouble here if we go after people on a whim and we don’t have a clear set of principles against which we can judge people, it’s not right.

Darling, Labour MP for Edinburgh South West, was not the only one to denounce the decision, with leading business figures also voicing their concerns. Former F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, a friend of Goodwin’s, said he was worried that the move was “poor for the constitution and very dangerous for the future”. The Institute of Directors warned of creating “anti-business hysteria” that would ultimately prove damaging to the UK’s claim of being an attractive place to do business.

The leaders of the major political parties were united in their view that the move was correct, with David Cameron describing it as “the right decision”, and Labour leader Ed Miliband saying he felt it was “only the start of the change we need in our boardrooms”.

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Posted in: Politics