Hypocrisy is one of the most commonly founded human accusations. I don’t think that there will be one reader of this article (I could possibly end the sentence here) who could claim to not be a complete hypocrite. It’s human nature. You’ll lambast someone for doing X (for US readers, this is not a narcotics reference), then in your own little way, go and do exactly the same. There’s a reason that we are told in the Good Book (arts critics were evidently easier to please back in the day…) to remove the beam from our own eye before the speck of sawdust from another’s. We are all hypocrites.
A few recent instances of this charming human affliction have come to light recently, in a way that has not gone unnoticed. There was a wonderful example within the ranks of the Labour party last week over their stance on the activities of Stephen Hester and Kate Green MP.
For those who have been living in a cave, Stephen Hester is the chief executive of RBS, who last week was awarded roughly £1m in bonuses for his performance over the last year. His role as chief exec was a poisoned chalice to the extent that most of the applicants had come straight from the interview for chief fireman in hell. Since 2008, it would take a harsh man to deny that Hester has been doing a good job and, to paraphrase Milo from Catch-22, what’s good for RBS is good for the country.
Now the way the City works, like it or not (and a cursory glance at the papers will tell you that roughly 110% of the country do not), is that firms expect excellence and employees are rewarded for it. If they are not rewarded for it, they will leave to go to a place where their ability will be. It is, theoretically, the ultimate self-serving meritocracy. Companies essentially bribe their most able employees to stay with them. As such, Mr Hestor was deemed worth “bribing” to the tune of £1m to stay with RBS. Shocking! Outrageous! Sickening!
Where the point is ultimately missed in the papers, and by the increasingly desperate Ed Milliband, is that should a firm take a stance and cease to offer competitive reward for its employees, then they will simply sod off to another firm. You end up with a load of useless people taking their place and the company dies on it’s arse. Which, given RBS’ ownership, would presumably cost the taxpayer a few quid more than retaining our Stephen.
To put this in context, from the point of hypocrisy, we have to look no further than football. Football is another world where the money appears out of touch (to the point of absurdity) with the common man, and yet one in which no-one appears to have the same violent reaction to wages as they do with ‘bankers’. In football, players are frequently offered wages, improved contracts and astronomical signing-on bonuses in order to buy their loyalty, yet are applauded to the high heavens for doing so.
“Oh yeah, Rooney really proved that he was a true Red by signing that new contract…”
Did he? Did he really? I’m sure the wage hike to £200k a week, plus multi-million signing on fee were just perks, weren’t they? Yet you watch the reaction when a player runs down his contract and leaves to another club for free. He is loathed. Detested.
Back to the City (not in the “as opposed to United” way either), Hestor’s bonus is the equivalent of him signing a new contract for RBS, the most widely supported club in the country. People might not agree with the sums involved, but I’m afraid that’s just the going rate, Mr Milliband. Yet here we are in a situation where he has been bullied into eschewing what he has earned because a few people are angry with the industry.
The fact that he has turned the money down is positively saintly in its nobility. This is Frank Lampard playing for free, this is Coldplay performing a gratis gig in Hyde Park, this is a gift to the nation. And yet it is one that he has only had to make because we are a nation of hypocrites and we have bullied him into it.
If the Labour party want to treat RBS as a state-owned company, and therefore Stephen Hestor as a Civil Servant, they might want to look a bit closer to home for a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Kate Green MP, who in her role as Shadow Minister for Equalities must be one of the most tedious people on earth, last week secured a massive victory for women everywhere when she managed to get a beer named “Top Totty” banned from the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons, because it demeaned women. This SICKENING beer had the AUDACITY to have a bunny girl as it’s logo. It was like Hitler, Gary Glitter and Bin Laden in a pint glass. Only worse. After a gruelling campaign, Miss Green (incidentally a divorcee) or St. Kate as she is now known, banished this evil and the Commons are once more free of scandal. Hurrah! What a wonderful use of her time.
So there you have it. Two huge victories in a week for “Red Ed” and the people’s party! A noble act vilified and a massive victory for hypocrites up and down the country. Which is incidentally exactly where you’ll find the vast majority of them.
by Harry Harland