Two cheers for RBS boss Stephen Hester

Well the bloke hasn’t had much to cheer him up recently, having lost a million quid bonus and been vilified by politicians of all hues, mostly for their own hypocritical purposes.

Why hypocritical? Labour fuelled the City’s bonus culture and the more than rash expansion of the financial sector that made the consequences of the credit crunch much worse in the UK than many other countries.

Remember Peter Mandelson saying he was ‘intensely relaxed’ about people becoming filthy rich? What Pete overlooked was that they weren’t making the rest of us any richer along the way, rather the opposite.

And the Tory-led coalition government has been anything but straight in its treatment of bankers and bonuses – and Hester. It keeps saying that what nearly-nationalised banks like RBS and Lloyds do is their business. Until there’s a hue and cry and it suddenly starts telling them what to do.

So why the applause for Stephen Hester?

Well he fronted up on the Today programme to tell listeners that he had thought of resigning, that he wasn’t a ‘robot’ but that it would have been ‘indulgent’ of him to do so.

Blimey, a banker with a sense of duty.

And he also pointed out that RBS had so far ‘lost’ £38bn of the $45bn the government pumped in, indicated not that he hasn’t done a good job (he has) but the mess was far greater than anyone realised at the time.

In a note to his staff he said that the best way to keep going was to try to prove the critics wrong.

And so it is. Let’s hope he succeeds (it is our money after all) and in the process shoves it up the hypocrites at Westminster.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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