Friday, February 27, 2009

[retrospective legislation] today godwin, tomorrow ... you

Iain Dale takes one point of view on Our Fred and DK takes another.

Let me put it a third way.

The legacy of the Soviet Union bureaucracy is that whatever you do, wherever you go, you are illegal. Just by trying to make ends meet and live a normal life, you, by definition, break the law.

Now, the way the country gets around this is that having legally got you by the short-and-curlies, the law is by-and-large ignored. In the day to day running of things, it works semi-fine. However, if someone's a bit short of cash or whatever, the authority looks at you and says, 'Oh, you've broken the law.'

Your job is to now to rue your unlucky day, go across and say, 'Let's see if we can't sort this problem out.' This usually involves the transfer of a certain amount of cash or whisky or in lesser infractions, a large box of chocolates for his wife.

Everything goes back to normal and you hope to avoid anything like that the next time.


If you don't think someone has been punished enough, with a man named Fred Godwin, for argument's sake, who was encouraged anyway by another man we'll call, say, Gordon Brown, then to retrospectively decide to enact legislation to dock the man's pension, given that he has already made an agreement to forego his bonuses, is just plain immoral.

Worse than immoral, it is stupid. If the type of person who is the first to demand the death penalty in these sorts of situations, that enabling any sort of retrospective legislation and putting it into the hands of this lot in Westminster is a good idea, think again.

Thomas More, in that immortal Robert Bolt play pointed to just such an issue. If you go around tearing down the law or redrafting it to suit some moral outrage you currently feel, then when you have the devil cornered and he turns round and uses it on you, to whom will you have recourse?

You've left yourself wide open.

I suggest we think carefully before enabling anything which has a retrospective whiff to it and look to our own safety in the current onslaught taking us back to the new feudalism.

Hat/tip Lord T


Lord T said...

Today Godwin. Tomorrow you will lose your pension for your actions that are within the law.

Now imagine where you do break the law. What about white van man driving through town and runs someone over. Does he deserve to lose his pension?

It seems that Gordo has decided that the Pensions industry isn't screwed up enough. He wants to discourage anyone using it.

Martin said...


Of course you're right about retrospective laws. The very idea is daft.

That should not, of course, prevent discussion of how the law is defectively lenient in other ways. You might recall that several weeks ago I posted a brief analysis of the Company Directors' Disqualification Act 1986. That Goodwin et al have been exposed as not being fit and proper people to be concerned in the management of public companies might be a consensus view - however, the 1986 Act seems to contain no provision which leads to automatic disqualification when you run up a 24 billion quid loss. Braying 'but the shareholders voted for it!' doesn't cut it - I'm not an RBS shareholder, I didn't see the prospectus for the ABN Amro takeover, but now I'm left with the bill. Thanks, but no thanks. Firmer disqualification laws, and not just to directed against publicans who drink the VAT bill. Action this day.

TBR said...

It's hilarious I think. The Government stepped into save the bloody bank so it could continue to do business. And because of this they had an obligation to pay off the likes of good old Fred.

What do people expect to happen. The only way to have stopped this would have been to let the bank go bust. Which we should have done.


What I don't get is how you can commit a breach of the law, punishable under the law prior to the act itself being against the law.

CherryPie said...

Yes James it is immoral after the agreement has been made to dock his pension. Although under the circumstances Fred is immoral for accepting it.

Going back to Gordon though, that is what he and his Government do best. Try to renegade on their agreements regarding pensions etc.

Anonymous said...

1)Goodwins pension rights were accrued over years. Some were profitable, some were not.

2)Brown is the one responsible for the destruction of the nations private pensions valuations. His "Pensions Grab" when chancellor meant that every private pension was INSTANTLY UNDERFUNDED BY 25%+/-

3)Brown is guilty of reneging on the value of existing and future state pensions by his linking of state pension rights to grossly fraudulent inflation indices.

4)Post Office pensions underfunded?
But the post office is state owned!

So where is the justification for the moral outrage, and where should it really be directed?

Here is an article which deals with the outrageous fraud of retrospective legislation, written by a previous statutory regulator. Another total fraud engineered by politicians who would sell their mother for a penny

James Higham said...

Lord T - right on.

Martin - do you have the link to your article?

TBR - agreed.

Uber - that's the point.

Cherie - that last part is so.

Anon - right on. That's where it should be directed.