4 Feb 2009

Should our bankers keep their titles?

Sir Tom McKillop has stepped down as chairman of RBS, the bank you and I own 70 per cent of – and doubtless soon 100 per cent of. Sir Tom’s bank recently posted the biggest loss in British corporate history: £28bn. The FT today calls his tenure as chairman “disastrous”.

In no way do I want to extract Sir Tom from all the others who, if we are to believe reports, have made such a hash of the global banking system. But is that where it ends? Does Sir Tom now stride off into the sunset and a happy retirement at McKillop Towers?

We have asked many times to interview him and all the others, but none has stuck his head above the parapet of the aforementioned towers.

So if there is to be no comeback, would the government think about removing from these guys the one thing it could give itself the power to remove, the one thing that probably matters to them more than most things: their titles?

Rest assured, if good old Tom, or Dick, or Harry, has to book a flight or a restaurant table, it won’t be quite as good a table or class of airline seat as it would have been had it been for Sir Tom, Sir Harry, or Sir Dick. That’s how UK plc still works.

As the government reviews how and when to strip lords and ladies of their seats in the House of Lords, perhaps it is already thinking about knighthoods, too?

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