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Can’t see the poverty for the knighthoods

Not only is Knighthood-gate a distraction from the rest of the annual bonus round, can it be a coincidence it comes as the Welfare Bill makes the commons?

There are two pretty significant issues leading the news at the moment. One is the removal of Fred Goodwin’s knighthood. The other is the return of the Welfare Reform Bill to the Commons. I’m not sure that the two are entirely unlinked. I suspect that the Goodwin knighthood removal was scheduled so the Government can bury some bad news.

The Goodwin decision has prompted praise from party leaders and trade unionists. And of course it’s the right thing to do (although I’d have got rid of the rest of the Honours system while I was at it). But the juxtaposition of someone who was a top banker with the Coalition’s determination to attack the poor and vulnerable through the Welfare Reform Bill prompts more questions.

It’s amazing that no bankers have been prosecuted for their role in destroying the economy. It’s even more surprising that no bankers have paid for their mistakes. The last bank to collapse before Northern Rock was the City of Glasgow bank in 1878. All of the directors of the bank were arrested, convicted and sent to prison. Yet none of those involved in the Northern Rock, RBS or other British bank collapses have been pursued or prosecuted.

Instead, it’s the poor who are paying for the casino capitalism that lead to the collapse. Families will be driven from their homes, children will be driven into poverty and our society will be all the worse for it. If we’re going to pay off debt, wouldn’t it be fairer to do it with the riches accumulated by the bankers who caused the crisis?

Peter McColl