It appears there is universal agreement that ‘Sir’ Fred Goodwin should lose his knighthood ‘for services to banking’ given that his principle service was to destroy the Royal Bank of Scotland and help precipitate the banking crisis that in turn led to the deficit crisis that in turn led to the huge cuts we are all faced with now. I agree with this consensus.
But Fred is to banking what Shirley Porter is to local government. Lest we forget, for her ‘services to local government’ John Major made her a Dame Commander of the British Empire. Her principle service was to deliver a Tory victory in Westminster in 1990 after Labour nearly grabbed control of the Tory flagship in 1986.
Imagine socialists lording it over Buckingham Palace, Porter is said to have warned as she embarked on the worst case of political corruption in modern local government history. Eventually she was condemned by the Law Lords for ‘gerrymandering’ by seeking to sell off council homes to people more likely to vote Tory – the infamous ‘Homes for Votes’ case – and ordered to pay back £42 million to the electors of Westminster for the losses sustained. Eventually she settled – with the Tory Council of course – and paid £12.3 million back.
The now deputy mayor of London, fellow Tory Kit Malthouse, said “The highest court in the land found her guilty of gerrymandering. There isn’t a much worse offence than that in politics. It is definitely up there in the hall of infamy.”
The proposition that she should be stripped of her Damehood has been put forward many times. It is said that Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott instructed that the procedure should be set in motion in 2003 but nothing came of it. Labour MPs and the Labour Group on Westminster have called for it many times, as has Ken Livingstone, who also called for her to be prosecuted for perjury during the various Court hearings for the Homes for Votes case. Nothing has happened on either count.
Although local Tories have apologised for her actions, so far as I know no national Tory Leader has ever addressed the issue since John Major promised he would apologise on behalf of the Tory Party if the case was found against her when all the court hearings and appeals were finished. They were and he didn’t, nor did any of his successors.
So, David Cameron, now that you have dusted off the procedure for a disgraced banker, lets use it again for a disgraced Tory. Or could it be that it would be too embarrassing to do so given the uncomfortable fact that the central policy that she was condemned for – driving the poor out of inner London – is now the mainstream policy of the Government?