Banking and the arts

Wasted talent, the death of banker bashing and the mutual concept

A farce? A farce?
The Co-op Bank, an ethical bank that's in a lot of trouble. Sir Christopher Kelly was asked by the Co-op to explain what went wrong and now the Kelly report has been published. This tells of problems going back several years but of late it went wrong because the people who try to run the bank on a day-by-day basis were undermined by others, from the board, who are a good deal less than ethical. It is certain that leaks of confidential information from the latter group were the reason that Euan Sutherland resigned, see link above. The management of the bank is done by the bank’s parent company, The Co-operative Group. This is where we find the group board. And the board is composed of elected representatives, elected by the Co-op membership.

Here diversity is all too apparent in that we find a plasterer, a grocer and, until recently, a Methodist minister. In some circles to question diversity gets you some funny looks but the truth was that apart from having bank accounts none had any practical experience of banking. In theory the board called upon auditors and others to advise them. But in practice could ignore this advice but still make decisions on how the bank was run and what projects, and specifically, what purchases went ahead. Thus they are to blame.

Now we see an experienced banker becoming the Culture Secretary. The elevation of Sajid Javid to the Cabinet has caused a stir, it also seems a waste of talent. Javid has spent his entire working life in banking. The stir can be seen when Fraser Nelson writing to rebut some nonsense in the Guardian but alas comes out with some of his own -

Javid has an excuse for not having an expansive ‘cultural hinterland’. He grew up in a household where it was a treat to hire a video for an evening – he wasn’t dragged off to the opera to learn how to mix with the intelligentsia, as the young Ed Miliband would have been. 

All we need to be told now is why there was no fuss about a lack of expansive banking hinterland when the Co-op group board was appointed! But Nelson was right to take aim at the Guardian with its daft pro-luvvie stance. For make no mistake that is what is happening here. The liberal arts establishment is solidly left of centre and don't take kindly to incomers.

Also the Guardian was not in the lead questioning the logic of the Co-op when it acquired Somerfield, the Britannia, and the attempt to buy into the Lloyds banking sale of hundreds of its branches, Project Verde. It was other newspaper titles, not the Guardian, who led the way here. However, what needs to be addressed is why the Co-op was allowed to totter on for so long in such a poor state of health. It really does seem as if its caring credentials clouded official judgement.

We also need to wonder about forcing Lloyds to sell these branches, it was required by European competition authorities. Thus the EU set in train the events that have damaged two banks and, perhaps for ever, damaged the mutual concept. We may also wonder why the once popular sport of banker-bashing has slowed down, is it that 'ethical' thing again? Furthermore, the Kelly report is just one of seven reports due, see link in the first line of this post, why so many?