Ed Miliband MP sets out his banking reform plans at the Co-operative Bank HQ
This morning, the Co-operative Party gathered alongside City journalists, residents of Tower Hamlets and representatives of the financial mutual sector to hear Ed Miliband give a speech at the London HQ of the Co-operative Bank. His speech, broadcast live, set out his vision of real change for Britain’s banks.
Ed opened his speech by praising the Co-op: “You have always understood that ethics of responsibility, co-operation and stewardship must be at the heart of what we do. That’s one of the reasons why the Co-op Bank has in the last week seen a 25% rise in applications for accounts.” He introduced the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, who was standing alongside him, as “a proud Labour and Co-operative MP”.
The Labour Leader made clear his vision of an economy that rewarded long-termism, patient investment and shared responsibility, and of a financial industry based on Stewardship banking, recognising its responsibility to serve the real economy and to build a long-term, trusted relationship with their customer. He reminded us of the time when building societies were based in the local communities they served and being a bank manager was a position to be respected.
Fundamentally, Ed Miliband called for better, genuine competition in the banking sector – an increase in the choice with “new banks appearing on high streets right across the country.” He added that, “we should have a thriving mutual sector once again.” Later, during questions, Ed Balls said that five years ago building societies and credit unions were regarded as a relic of the past by the City, but that instead the City needed to learn the lessons of the mutual sector. He praised the innovation of mutuals and lauded the trust in which they are held by the public.
Miliband was clear on his support for a UK equivalent of the US Glass-Steagal Act, something which Co-operative MP Chris Leslie has been pushing for in the current Financial Services Bill debates, in the face of Tory and Lib Dem opposition.
Ed said: “Some of the most deprived areas of the country are currently almost entirely excluded from banking services. We can only fix this when we know what is going on, when we have proper information. In the 1970s, the US government passed a law forcing the banks to publish details of the areas in the country to which they weren’t lending. That paved the way for radical action on community financing. Some banks in the UK already hold this information. We should collect and publish it.”
Ed Miliband’s speech today, hosted by the Co-operative Bank, gets us closer to banks that, as he put it, serve the people, not just themselves. Banks they can trust once again. Banks that can help us rebuild our economy, and rebuild an economy that works for working people.”