Friday, February 27, 2009

Sir Fred's pension

As the Devil and Tim Worstall point out, if Sir Fred Goodwin's pension was part of an agreement reached between him and RBS as he exited the company, there's really no grounds in law for confiscating his pension money if he's not willing to give it up voluntarily. Sir Fred claims that he has already made a number of gestures in terms of his entitlements from RBS, and that the pension relates not just to his time in RBS but also his previous employments. Sir Fred also makes the claim that his pension arrangements "have not fundamentally altered" from when he joined RBS in 1998.

During his time in RBS, Mr Fred Goodwin became Sir Fred, due partly to the intervention of the then Chancellor. The same Chancellor whose regulatory system completely failed to prevent the collapse and (partial) nationalisation of several banks. Perhaps Sir Fred should consider this - offering to take the same percentage cut in his pension as the then Chancellor, given that they both messed up on the job.

I wonder how well that would play with the current resident of Number 10 Downing Street.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

William Hunter way and democracy

I attended last night's Council meeting to have a look at local democracy in action - I had been told the main focus would be the budget, but it turned out the main topic of interest was the proposed planning development for William Hunter Way, a matter of intense controversy locally. The plans were being brought to full council for approval - leading to the public areas being packed with opponents of the developments.

I have no strong views on the development - I haven't studied it in enough detail, but it was clear to me that the only way this was going to fail to pass was if there were sufficent opposition from within the local Conservative group (as a majority of the council is 19 and they make up 28 of the 37 councillors). In the end - despite the absence of three Conservative councillors, and a "rebellion" and a few rebels voting against, 20 votes were cast for the development and it passed.

The thing that appalls me though is the number of councillors who had to step out of the chamber for the debate because they had publicly expressed opposition outside of council to the development - this was a cross party issue, as Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors all excused themselves. Some of the councillors actually represented the ward in which this controversial development is to be built. Legal advice was that this was a requirement laid down by central government.

If this was a swear blog, I'd make the Devil's Kitchen look the soul of reason. This is totally ridiculous - what's the point of electing local councillors if the moment they start to represent the interests of those who voted for them they lose their ability to vote on the issues they care about? It wouldn't have made any difference in this case, but it's still fundamentally flawed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ivan Cameron

As a father myself, I can just about start to get an idea of the pain David and Samantha Cameron must be feeling today.

Today is not a day for party politics - as recognised by the Prime Minister who made the very wise decision to cancel PMQs today - and instead made a very moving speech on the subject - he of course, has some idea of the pain the Camerons must be feeling after the death of his own daughter.

David Cameron is a church goer - it might be some consolation for him to realise there is a little angel in heaven tonight praying for him.