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It is time to unleash hell against banks

With chancellor Alistair Darling throwing his toys out of the pram over the intransigence of UK banks, the only question is why should anyone be surprised?

I think banks abandoned any sense of moral responsibility years ago and replaced it with a me, me, me culture.

It’s been decades since you could rely on your bank manager for impartial advice. Banking is now a sales and profit industry and the two fingers it has raised to the government is a sign of its arrogance.

Having pursued a reckless path into the profit opportunities of sub-prime mortgages, there seems to be no hint of remorse other than from the Royal Bank of Scotland. And all it got for its grace was journalistic condemnation for a grovelling apology. Nevertheless, balls to make it.

As for the rest, it’s difficult in the face of their incalcitrance not to wish that one or two hadn’t been allowed to go to the wall.

That would have taken the smug expression off their fat cat faces. But with a rueful shrug of the shoulders they have signed up to the terms and conditions of a taxpayer bailout, then decided to largely ignore them and carry on seeking new ways to stoke up profits.

The rest of us have to endure the financial hardship and misery that their negligence has caused. No wonder Darling is spitting feathers. Who wouldn’t be?

But this debacle speaks legions about the crassness of treating customers fairly. What a crock of bovine excrement this has turned out to be. It’s just like the majority of the banks’ mission, vision and value statements.

They are great as laminated wall decorations but about as useful as a chocolate teapot, a set of words designed to give comfort but which in reality are illusory.

It’s also identical to the customer-centric nonsense banks also churn out ad nauseum.

“We’re putting customers at the core of everything we do,” they chortle in unison, presumably so that like fish in a barrel consumers are easier to catch. And what have members of the public been able to do about it? Sod all.

But by extending this cavalier attitude to the government, banks will find that they have more than met their match.

Readers of this column will know that I’m no fan of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his mob, given that their incompetence played its part in getting us to where we are now.

But at least their actions are aimed at redressing the situation whereas the banks are transparently seeking to profit from it.

UK banking has become the Sodom and Gomorrah of financial services with its obsession with profit hitting the lives of thousands.

In the words of Russell Crowe in Gladiator, I suspect the public is only too willing for Darling to give the signal to unleash hell or at least give the greedy bastards a kicking.


Knight’s opening gambit

JM: You started your career back in 1973. The economy was going to the dogs and the following year things got so bad that the Labour government had to intervene and lend building societies a serious amount of money. Given that, do you get a sense of déja vu and feel what you’ve achieved as an innovator has been for nothing?

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