Many intelligent and erudite Scots will see in the story of Sir Fred Goodwin, the disgraced and dismissed head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, the elements of Greek tragedy. Hamartia, his tragic flaw, caused by hubris and arrogance; the peripeteia of his bank's downfall from an institution that sought to rival Barclays to a provincial branch, and the nemesis of his sacking when the full extent of his vainglorious and foolish behaviour was exposed. However, two elements are lacking that would make Goodwin a Scots hero, and he is left as dirty villain. There is no indication of anagnorisis, or self-knowledge, on Goodwin's part; just a fraction of the realisation of the human cost of his stupidity would have led him to surrender his knighthood in ignimony, cover his head in ash and exchange his Savile Row suit for sackcloth. And there is no catharsis, no pity, no sympathy, no cleansing in the public mind for this noxious little fart.
Nor is there any sign that Goodwin will voluntarily give up any part of the £4.2m he paid himself in 2007, or of his £8.4m pension fund.
The Americans have a simple view of the relation between the extent of privileges accorded to its wealthiest citizens and their responsibilities. They would consider Goodwin had a duty of care, that he breached that duty, and as a consequence has caused great human misery and suffering, and therefore that he should be punished. I suspect in the US, Goodwin would already be languishing in a Federal prison.
On this occasion, I'd encourage the US government to put a case together and apply for Goodwin's fast-track extradition. His negligence extends across the Atlantic. A sentence of twenty to fifty in a Federal penitentiary may at last bring to the people of this country the catharsis we're lacking.