When is a Pension, Not a Pension?

March 1, 2009



I was watching Sunday AM this morning, with that tenacious, rottweiler of an interviewer Andrew Mar. Bring back Frost I say, he’s no Paxman but he was always professional and never showed any favouritism. Mar on the other hand just seems to get down on his hands and knees before the presence of any Labour figure, treating their word as the gospel truth. It seems to me that he is frightfully afraid of upsetting his chums, he does not like asking them the tough questions, and when he does he never queries their response. There is no wonder he was whisked into No 10 to interview Brown when he bottled calling the election because they knew he would give them an easy ride.


Today I was watching his interview with Harriet Harman and I don’t think I have ever seen a politician being let off the hook so many times in one interview. He cast out his line of questioning, reeled her in, but as soon as she was out of her comfort zone he unhooked her and threw her back. If a fisherman went about his task in this way he would go home very hungry, which is exactly the same sort of feeling I got out of watching it.


He began by questioning her at length on Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension package. Que choreographed outrage, frown lines, and look of exasperation. Harman rattled on about what a disgrace it was and how the public wouldn’t stand for it. As if she knows what the public thinks, living as she does in a parallel universe where she is admired by all. She went on to say that it didn’t matter what the courts said about Sir Fred’s pension, it was the court of public opinion that mattered! Just goes to show what the government thinks of the law doesn’t it? This would have been a good point for Mar to ask a killer question, but it never came. Instead, she was allowed to bluster on and sound as outraged as the rest of us.

So what question should Mar have intervened with? He should have said “if Sir Fred’s pension is as you say so outrageous, why was it signed off by Government Ministers in the first place, and shouldn’t Paul Myners, the minister responsible resign?” Watching the interview I got the distinct impression that the government had no involvement what so ever in the awarding of Sir Fred’s very generous pension scheme. Misinformation like this should not be allowed to spread, especially by the supposedly impartial BBC, do you think they will give us such an easy ride when we are back in power? I doubt it!

Harman was even allowed to get away with making the assertion that Sir Fred’s pension wasn’t a pension at all (again what planet does she live on), it was instead…wait for it… severance pay. SEVERENCE PAY! I kid you not. Somehow I don’t think that would pass mustard in a court of law, which is where Harman says the government are threatening to take Sir Fred. All this of course is hot air, the fact remains, that the pension package was agreed and signed off by her own government, to which, she was keen to remind us, she is a very loyal member. Well of course you are dear, and I’m a card carrying socialist! I think that Sir Fred’s pension is far too generous considering all the damage his actions have done to the country, to RBS, and to its customers such as myself. However once the government (which now owns the bank) agreed to pay him that pension they can not backtrack over this. The government will just have to accept the fact that they could not run a whelk stall, let alone a country. Taking this to court would be a very big mistake, they would loose, but I guess it doesn’t matter to them, after all it’s not their money.