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October 9, 2012 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson



The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband gave an excellent speech during the party’s conference in Manchester last week. 


Ed spoke without notes for 64 minutes and remembered the whole speech and was pretty much word perfect during some very complex passages. 


It is quite a skill to be able to speak for so long without any notes and it showed his confidence in his own ability. 


Of course how we do things is of great importance but in reality it is what Ed said that really counts. 


Ed Miliband spoke up for ordinary working people and for pensioners. 


He spoke up for those who have had their tax credits cut and he spoke up for small businesses. 


Ed reminded us that millionaires have been given a tax cut while the vast majority of people have faced either tax rises or cuts in pay or massive cuts in services. 


And if you work in the public sector you may be lucky if you still have a job at all. 


With three years to go to the next general election, Ed was never going to say what the next Labour government would do in great detail. He doesn’t know what the country will be like in 2015. Policies announced in 2012 will no longer be right for 2015. 


But he gave the banks fair warning. Either the banks change their ways and go back to being good steady servants of the people, part of the communities they serve, supporting local businesses and individuals by getting to know and help their customers or the next government will make them do so by law. 


I visited Barclays in Formby and Crosby to support their Macmillan cancer coffee mornings. It struck me that staff at both of those branches and at branches of other banks across Sefton Central have always worked closely with their customers. The personal knowledge of individual and business customers is the best way of judging whether to loan someone money or not. 


Some of our bank branches have continued to be part of our communities even when the bank executives were off paying themselves millions in bonuses for gambling and losing our money. Staff in bank branches are not paid huge bonuses and are disgusted by the disgraceful actions of their bosses just like the rest of us. But even those branches wanting to use good solid, reliable local relationship based banking are prevented from doing so because all applications for loans have to be assessed by regional or head office. 


The computer is still saying ‘no’ even when bank staff know that the loan will be repaid because they know the customers. 


This is frustrating for staff and customers alike and it prevents economic growth and job creation because businesses cannot invest without the banks lending them money.


Ed Miliband has told the banks to change their ways or be forced to do so. 


I suspect that many bank customers will welcome what Ed said and I suspect the same is true for many hard working, caring bank staff too.

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