Nationalise the Banks!


As the scandal engulfing the banks accelerates daily, so the attempts by both Labour and coalition party leaders to pretend they can stop future crises become more desperate.

The latest attempt to ‘discipline’ the banks was unveiled yesterday by Labour leader Ed Miliband who proposed measures that would lead to a ‘root and branch change’ to the banks.

These proposals from Miliband and his shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, amount to nothing more than creating two new ‘challenger’ banks.

These would be privately owned banks created by getting the big five high street banks to sell off up to 400 of their existing branches.

Just how the creation of two new privately owned and run banks with a handful of branches throughout the country by the end of 2015 will somehow break the monopoly of the five giant banks that dominate in the UK is not explained.

Nor is this proposal as radical as Miliband would have us believe; in fact, the Labour leaders stole the idea from the Tory chancellor, George Osborne, who has already proposed setting up a similar ‘challenger’ bank out of the sell-off by Lloyds of 600 of its branches.

Northern Rock, the collapsed bank that had to be nationalised by Labour when it went bust in 2008, has been sold to the Virgin empire with no appreciable sign of this creating any type of break-up at all.

The Miliband/Balls proposals also contain the usual reference to splitting the banks up into ‘good’ banks who only deal with high street banking matters and the risky investment side of banking.

The same refrain was taken up over the weekend by the coalition’s business secretary, Vince Cable, who in an interview on the Andrew Marr programme, accused the banks of only being interested in short-term profits and, as a consequence, ‘are throttling the recovery of British industry’.

This interview ended on a cosy note with Cable being joined on the sofa by Ed Balls, and Cable saying he would like to ‘co-operate’ with Labour over the banks.

This ‘love-in’ between Cable and Balls has all the hallmarks of a reactionary coalition developing between the LibDems and Labour to rescue not the working class from the rapacious banks but on the contrary, the banks from a working class that is up in arms against them.

This is a working class that has seen over £1.5 trillion pumped into the bankrupt banking system, money paid for out of the most savage cuts to the Welfare State, jobs and pensions.

While over three million children go hungry in Britain every day through poverty, and the only growth is in food banks to feed families on the brink of starvation, these Labour policies are not just inadequate they are completely treacherous.

There can be no return to a banking system that existed only in the 19th century when banks operated as modest middlemen collecting and making payments on behalf of others.

This ended at the start of the 20th century when the banks developed from being mere middlemen into powerful monopolies commanding, as Lenin analysed in his work on Imperialism, almost the whole of money capital of all the capitalists.

Such powerful monopolies will not be ‘broken up’ or in any way discomfited by bourgeois politicians and Miliband, Balls and Cable know this full well.

Their intention in floating these proposals is to try and divert the rising tide of class hatred against the banks down the road of useless reforms.

There can be no reform of the banking system – the only solution is the nationalisation of the banks under the control of the working class.

This requires the bringing down of the coalition and going forward to a workers government and socialism.