Are UK politicians missing an opportunity to turn RBS/Natwest into the sort of bank that works for its customers?

On Monday, Ed Miliband made a speech about banking at the Co-operative Bank in London. In the speech he made a couple of comments that caught my eye (Source: BBC):

Mr Miliband told an audience of financiers it was time to move from “casino” to “stewardship” banking.

Mr Miliband said the country had endured a “shift from stewardship banking to casino banking – moving from a culture when banks cared about the local business and had an interest in its success”.

Mr Miliband said the loss of 200 building societies since the 1980s had been damaging, with banks often “more focused on their investments in the global financial markets than they are on their local customers”.

The government responded by saying that:

“it was already facilitating the creation of two challenger banks, in the shape of Co-operative Bank and Virgin Money, with a source telling the BBC: “Labour is simply demanding what we’ve already done.””

Overall, Mr Miliband in his speech:
•    Talks about a move towards stewardship away from casino baking
•    Lauds mutualism
•    Lauds the Co-operative Bank
•    Wants better banking
•    Wants more competition

Meanwhile, the Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, has been talking a lot recently about employee ownership and how organisations like John Lewis and the Cooperative are shining examples of better ways to do business.

Hang on. Don’t they want the same thing? And, doesn’t the UK taxpayer own a big bank?

Couldn’t we change RBS/Natwest into a cooperative, an employee owned or mutual organisation?

Wouldn’t that be a good use of taxpayers money? Wouldn’t it allow politicians to lead and actually do something about the things that they are all talking about?

Given that many of the banks, including RBS, have been implicated in the LIBOR rate rigging scandal, isn’t an opportune time to do something radical?

What do you think? I’d appreciate your thoughts.

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