Since the financial crash of 2007-8, Barclays has epitomised everything that is wrong with the banking sector; fraudulent and corrupt activities have included the mis-selling of PPI, the Libor fixing scandal, ues of tax havens, exhorbitant profits and obscene bonuses to its greed-obsessed investment bankers. A few paltry fines have resulted in profits only reaching a measly £1.4bn for the third quarter of this year, whilst its new CEO, the one who replaced the disgraced Bob Diamond, Antony Jenkins says nonsense like "We get it, we are changing the way we do business", and that the bank will put ethics above earnings; that would explain, then, why the bank has suspended six employees in the wake of new investigations into the manipulation of the currency markets!
Also, in its attempts to avoid the EU cap on bonuses, the same one Osborne pathetically attempted to block in Brussels as illegal, Barclays is now contemplating paying its high earning investment staff a new "allowance", at the same time planning to cut 1,700 more jobs from its branch network. This is in addition to the warning last week that 600 jobs could go in Dartford and Coventry! Unite will, of course, fight to save these jobs, but the truth is that workers, union members and everyone who desires a fairer society should show their disgust with the activities of Barclays and the other main high street banks, like the money-laundering HSBC, by moving their accounts. Admittedly, with the Co-operative bank`s problems, viable alternatives are difficult to find, but switching could become a new form of peaceful protest, especially if we all did it four or five times a year!
All this shows how vital it is for this country to have a nationalised bank in which we can trust, and one where profit is not the sole motive. The announcement by Miliband that his government would impose a "levy on monster banking profits" to pay for an extension of free childcare is to be welcomed, but far too low-key. Attacks on the banks, their profiteering and dubious habits, just like the intended energy price freeze, should be a major Labour policy, and get the necessary publicity. It is still not clear whose side Labour is on; it needs to convince the electorate that it is different from the Tories in that it is not in cahoots with the City, and that it will pass laws to make the financiers pay their dues.