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Ethics Man

FEATURE BY MIKE LAWRENCE
04/03/2009

Comrades, let us hail Sir Fred Goodwin, Hero of the Struggle of the Proletariat. The man has done more to advance the People's Revolutionary Aspirations than all the posters of Che Guevara combined.

It is a long time since someone who is not a child molester, politician, serial killer, people of that stamp, has received so much, and so widespread, public condemnation in Britain. He has achieved what many thought impossible, he has united every political party. Nobody has achieved that since Adolf Hitler.

A few months ago, Goodwin was unknown to the general public, now he is the butt of cartoons and comedians, and the subject of yards of newsprint. After leading RBS to the largest corporate loss in British history, he will receive a pension of £693,000 per year. Commentators have gone on for years about corporate greed, but this is the final straw.

Had RBS been allowed to slide into bankruptcy, Goodwin's total package would have been £20,000. The bank would have also been relieved of sponsorship deals. Every time we see a Williams we will be reminded of RBS's profligacy. It would actually be better for the bank's image to remove its livery from the cars, while fulfilling its financial obligations.

Some sections of the press are taking a hard look at RBS's £200 million sports sponsorship deals. One of Goodwin's childhood heroes was Jackie Stewart and Goodwin directed £4 million of shareholders' money so that Stewart could advise on F1 sponsorship. Directing the money to Williams was a no-brainer. A British bank could hardly sponsor, say, Toyota, and some other teams already had banks on board.

Sir Jackie was first off the starting blocks to have a go at Max Mosley for being caught with his pants down, in one of his own homes, with consensual adults. Jackie had things to say about sponsors shying away from motor sport, though he did not have a single fact to support him.

I hazard to suggest that a greater offence than Max spending his own money on hookers, is a CEO spending other peoples' money so that he can live his childhood fantasies, but that is what Fred Goodwin did. Jackie became Goodwin's new best friend so I do not expect Stewart to express an opinion on Goodwin, besides, he has sold his right to do that.

Jackie Stewart used to bang on about 'ethical sponsorship' as though tobacco companies were demons in disguise and banks veered towards holiness. At least tobacco companies are open about their business. RBS was presenting an image of responsibility while Fred Goodwin was spending like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Jackie might consider his image. He is on four million a year, I read, for glad-handing people, and that is nice work if you can get it. That money is now coming from the tax payer and I am sure that teachers, nurses, firefighters and other inconsequential people, are thrilled to be putting money in his sporran.

The tennis player, Andy Murray, has agreed to take a cut in sponsorship. I am sure that he will not go without shoes on his feet and meat on his table, but it is an appropriate gesture.

Stewart earns money from his image and he is in danger of seeing his image besmirched. Yes, he has a contract, but so does Andy Murray and he is not linked to a cash-devouring F1 team. Most of us could buy the same kit that Murray uses, it is his talent that makes the difference and his talent is current. Murray is winning matches today, not 35 years ago.

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