Belfast Telegraph

We won't be taken for ride by bankers

The recent economic chaos has confirmed for many people the long-held belief that there is one set of rules for the rich and powerful and another for the ordinary man or woman in the street.

They have seen bankers and politicians dodge any responsibility for the financial ruin visited on many people while still seeming to prosper themselves. The public anger has needed a face on which to focus and that face belongs to disgraced former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Sir Fred Goodwin who has now been stripped of his knighthood for his part in the financial melt-down.

He was found guilty at the court of public opinion because ordinary people, who have seen their living standards and their very job security dwindle since 2008, want justice in its widest sense. While it may have been a committee of top civil servants and lawyers who stripped Mr Goodwin of his title, the impetus came from ground level. That does not mean that the UK is suddenly in the grip of some radical revolutionaries intent in overthrowing society as we know it, but it shows that the public will no longer be taken for a ride.

The Tory-led government shows little stomach - until pinned to their collars - for tackling boardroom pay bonus excesses or seeking redress from those who played a pivotal part in the banking collapse. RBS was feted when making huge profits and Mr Goodwin was allowed to embark on the disastrous take-over of ABN-Amro which resulted in huge losses and a public bail out of £45bn. Quite rightly the public wanted some recognition that those who took part in such a mind-boggling gamble should bear some of the consequences.

It is somewhat ironic that all sections of the press find themselves hauled before the Leveson Inquiry to answer in public for the indefensible sins of a few, yet there has not been a single inquiry into how bankers brought the country - indeed many parts of the world - to the verge of economic collapse. Maybe the public anger directed at Fred Goodwin will be channelled towards other deserving targets in the near future.

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