Forget the hanging of the Canary Wharf mob, the new banking crisis is the Co-op coup

Janice Atkinson for The Daily Mail
19th July 2012

Bankers’ bonuses took on a new twist this morning when the Co-op was handed over 600 LloydsTSB branches. Ed Miliband must be rubbing his hands together with glee. Labour benefits from political donations from the Co-op, and it funds some of Labour’s MPs.

The proponents of the climate change wheeze will also benefit from the Co-op’s ‘ethical’ investment arm – they lobby (bully) companies into changing their attitudes on climate change, making goods dearer for us to buy.

These are the Labour Party’s bankers in every sense of the word.  Labour’s mutual friend, the Co-operative Bank, is owned by the Co-operative Group. It is a major Labour benefactor, and donates substantial amounts to the Co-operative Party, which stands candidates jointly with Labour at all levels of government.

The bank is in the top 10 league of political donors, coming in at No.7. Since 2001, the Co-op has contributed £5,402,319 to Labour. The Co-operative Party says of itself: “The Co-operative Party is the political arm of the co-operative movement. We have more than 9,000 members”. They also have an affinity credit card which has proven a good little earner. It is the one stop shop for political donations.

There are currently 29 Labour and Co-operative MPs in the House of Commons, 15 Members of the House of Lords, 5 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 9 Members of the Welsh Assembly and hundreds of councillors around the country, including Ed Balls, who presided over this country’s worst financial crisis and handed taxpayers’ money to LloydsTSB.

As a taxpayer I object to this deal, on both political and ethical grounds. The original estimated cost of the LloydsTSB branches was £1.5bn, and in my opinion the Co-op has got a cracking deal by paying £350m up front and £400m payable over 15 years. That’s a whopping great shortfall for all of us who bailed them out. Added to this is the fact that this deal has been forced by the EU competition rules.

Those of us who believe climate change is a licence to print money (and that the climate is changing all the time with man having very little effect on it), should be worried about this coup. The Co-op is a great believer in the climate change wheeze, as well as a great investor and lobbyist. Speaking of the Sustainable Leaders Trust, a fund in which the bank invests, it states:

“Sustainable Leaders Trust takes this one step further by avoiding companies involved in areas such as nuclear power generation, tobacco, armaments and pornography, among others that do not meet our strict criteria”.

This is literally chilling, particularly the nuclear power angle, as without nuclear power we are going to get very cold in the winter – other than those who can afford to pay for wind farms or the £120 per annum levied on hard-pressed family fuel bills each year to pay for these useless carbuncles.

As nuclear energy is carbon neutral, surely this is an acceptable form of cheap energy? I don’t have a problem with the fund rejecting pornography and tobacco but, given their interest in human rights, I wonder whether they have Chinese companies in their investment portfolios?

They go on: “In this way, we can challenge major businesses from the inside, to improve their performance in relation to issues of concern to our customers, such as climate change and human rights, in a way that other organisations cannot … We actively vote at AGMs and meet with the companies in which we invest to encourage them to be better, fairer businesses.”

This is a rather worrying statement when lobby companies and campaign groups are being asked to register their interests for openness and transparency. Is the Co-op going to publish the list of companies they have bullied to change policy, which may be costing consumers more in the long run? I am waiting for their PR people to get back to me. They promised they would do so within 10 minutes of speaking to me at 9am this morning. I’m still waiting.

LloydsTSB customers should not only be made aware of how the Co-op does business, but also of its political connections. The electorate rejected the Co-op candidates at the last General Election. Do you want to fund Labour’s comeback?

I am all for people power, direct democracy and transparency. The Co-op’s website invites all investors to call them about this deal. I therefore encourage all taxpayers who become ‘investors’ in LloydsTSB to call them, as they claim they are ‘available for calls with investors’.

Contact Rajesh Bhatia (Treasurer at The Co-operative Banking Group) via or call 020 7977 2474.

Until they cough up the final £ of our investment, we should be watching and questioning them very closely. We should also be insisting that they cease to fund Labour in political donations, stop favourable overdraft rates for Labour, and stop sponsoring political candidates until they have paid off the debt.

In the meantime, the so-called ‘Conservative’ Chancellor, Boy George said of the Co-op deal: ‘This is another step towards creating a new banking system for Britain that gives real choice to customers and supports the economy’. Oh dear, George – time for change at No.11.

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