What I find astonishing is that banker Stephen Hester waited so long to turn down his near £1million pound bonus. The boss of Royal Bank of Scotland seems to be upset over the furore surrounding the proposed payment, which he eventually decided not to take, but only after days of bad headlines and a near-vote in the Commons against the award.
He may very well be a superb banker, but why behave like a right thicko for not realising sooner the public's disgust that such a large sum should be awarded to an employee of a bank which needed an injection of billions in taxpayer's money to save it? It doesn't say much for his judgement that he waited so long to do the inevitable and surrender the money - an action that would have brought him plaudits had he made that decision sooner. It also highlights the sort of world top bankers inhabit, when a bonus of only £1million was seen as showing restraint.
Was there not one sensible person at the bank prepared to advise how bad it would look that the award should be offered in the first place? And what of his PR team? Or was Mr Hester, like Fred Goodwin, too arrogant and so far removed from reality that he failed to listen? In a series of interviews in recent days he has defended himself to the point of nausea. Stephen, let it be mate, the damage is done!
Now, despite what I have said above, I still believe that he had every right to take the bonus, as he had met the criteria agreed in the contract he signed under the Labour government. What I find puzzling is that a man in his position was so lacking in common sense as to turn what could have been a superb public relations exercise by a quick refusal to accept the money, into a disaster for himself and the bank he represents.