The Tories are making hay from the news that Sir Fred Goodwin was on a “high level” panel advising the government on financial issues as recently as late January.
Newcastle paper The Journal spotted that Sir Fred was on Alistair Darling’s group of senior representatives from the financial world until January 28.
The Treasury select committee has just published a letter from RBS setting out how the bank determined Sir Fred’s pension payout. It transpires that – had he been dismissed rather than given early retirement – he would have received £287,000 a year less (unless he waited a decade to draw it down).
The heaviest snow to hit the Washington area for years has disrupted Gordon Brown’s hopes for a statesmanlike press conference with Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden, which is now better suited to building snowmen.
The Brown and Obama camp are trying to arrange a separate “press opportunity” in the Oval Office, which – as one British official put it – will leave the prime minister without “flags and podiums” when he appears on the television news.
His allies admit it will have to happen. Ministers just think he should just get on with it. The Tories, meanwhile, are licking their lips at the prospect of Gordon Brown stubbornly refusing to give way. The longer he holds out, they say, the more painful the eventual capitulation will be. The pressure is building. At some point, Brown may be forced to break the unspoken golden rule of his political career and say sorry.
It is unlikely to be straightforward. When it comes he will probably admit that mistakes were made, or some suitably unspecific formulation. But it will be the gesture of “humility” that even the Alistair Darling now says is required. In his interview with the Daily Telegraph, the chancellor takes the significant step of acknowledging that everyone — even his predecessor — must accept some responsibility for what went wrong. Blaming the US, subprime bankers, global forces or shirt-sleeved speculators will no longer wash with the public.