The link is obvious once we realize why Goodwin is getting such a pension despite running RBS into insolvency. The problem is not that he was reckless and greedy; we’d all like a £693,000 a year pension. It’s that his greed and reckless was unrestrained. Neither shareholders, nor fellow executives, nor the remuneration committee checked his plundering egomania.
But this idea that there should be no restraints placed upon the powerful is part of New Labour’s mindset. We see this in their proposals to harass people who photograph the police - the point being to remove one check upon the police’s maltreatment of the public. We see it too in Straw’s refusal to publish minutes of the Cabinet meetings about the Iraq war - denying the disciplining effect upon policy-makers of publicity.
The common thread here is that the powerful don’t need restraining because they have our best interests in mind. If only leaders are given enough power, they can guide and protect we mere mortals.
Straw gives us a glimpse into this mindset in this astoundingly fatuous article. He says:
Underpinning this is a faith in “leadership.” Common to both Blair and Brown was a belief in the power of “strong leaders“ to improve schools, hospitals or communities, and - at least before the crisis broke - Brown rarely missed a chance to praise the “leadership“ of businessmen. But of course, if you believe leaders have such power, you must pay to attract the best of them, and not put any obstacles in the way of their ability to lead.
In this sense, Goodwin’s pension is not about greed at all. It’s about the failure of Labour’s faith in the untrammelled power of leadership. Not, of course, that they are capable of seeing this.