Monday, 2 March 2009

Harman rattles the sabres

Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, has upped the ante over Fred Goodwin's pension, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr yesterday:
Sir Fred Goodwin should not count on being £650,000 a year better off because it is not going to happen.

That's a pretty definitive statement, so either the government has something concrete in mind or she's shooting her mouth off for short-term political gain. I wouldn't exclude either possibility.

As I wrote yesterday, there's no easy way to get the pension revoked through legal routes because proving negligence would be exceptionally difficult. There's some speculation that the government might seek to introduce retrospective legislation, a sort of Sir Fred Goodwin (Revocation of Pension) Act, but nobody in their right mind can surely believe that would stand up in court? It would almost certainly breach the Human Rights Act and European law, not to mention set a heinous precedent for government overreach.

There's undoubtedly an element of pandering to the court of public opinion in Harman's remarks. Goodwin has few friends and makes an easy target for a craven populist like Harman, who appears keen to both shore up her credentials with the Labour left ahead of a possible leadership bid after the next election and also deflect attention from her own government's economic failure over the past decade.


Anonymous said...

Oh god, can you imagine if Harman somehow managed to take control of Labour? That really would be time to jump ship and emigrate. Jesus.

dan! said...

Fortunately there's little chance of her taking over until after the next election, at which time Labour will probably be in opposition, so she won't be able to do much damage.

It's hard to tell if she could win a leadership election. If the party lurches to the left in defeat then she would stand a good chance - it was the left-wing vote of Jon Cruddas breaking to her in the fifth round of the deputy leadership election in 2007 that got her the job, just ahead of Alan Johnson.