Helen Martin: Banker bandits not worth punt

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PRESSURE is growing to see the bankers who rigged foreign exchange markets named, shamed, criminally charged and sent to jail.

Fining the banks billions isn’t the answer for the individual customers who suffered as a result, yet won’t see a penny of it. And since we still own RBS, the British public is being fined rather than the perpetrators.

The chances of changing banking culture without changing the entire system, are remote. Banking is crooked, broken, criminal and unworkable, not least because it’s been let away with murder – or at least theft – for so long.

High-street banking should be totally separate from investment banking, and run transparently through local branches and can we please bar them from investing customers’ money overnight without permission or agreement, for their own commercial gain (that’s another form of accepted, “legalised” theft we have tolerated for too long)?

Opening an account, especially for investment purposes, is currently more risky than playing a one-armed bandit where at least you know it’s a matter of luck, rather than being intentionally ripped off by a thief manipulating the controls behind the machine as you continue to plough in your hard-earned.

If we expect banks to safeguard our funds as far as reasonably possible we should at least have some fast and efficient method of getting money back from them when they’ve nicked it through corruption or negligence. But what chance do any of us currently have of suing a bank?

The current financial system has to end. Nothing else will clean up such a dishonourable and morally corrupt industry which now holds power over us all. And the key to any new system is making real, named people accountable and responsible.

Rogue bankers hide in the back rooms, in invisible departments, working at such a distance from the customer that they no longer consider the money they deal in belongs to anyone, let alone to struggling families. To them, banking is nothing more than a computer game that can yield big prizes. Eventually they completely lose touch with the reality that their gain is someone else’s loss and that their greed causes real pain, anguish, ruination, and even suicide.

The onward charge to internet banking is only making the situation worse, even less personal, eroding any remaining human connection and the notion of customer care.

There used to be a phrase in common usage which was “as safe as the Bank of England”. Now no-one regards any bank as “safe”. No-one believes banks have integrity. No-one takes their advice at face value. Everyone knows their job is to sell, not guide. There is no banking “code of honour” . . that would be having a laugh.

Banks now work for themselves, not the customer, which in real terms means they are no longer of any use to wider society, and certainly pointless in a sustained period of zero interest.

Finding a workable alternative will be difficult even for the finest brains in the world, and no doubt something that can only be achieved over a generation or two. But leaving banking as it is? Well clearly that’s no longer an option.

Super-fast gets us nowhere fast

A TV “package” is a normal household requirement, whether it’s a wee gadget you plug in your telly, a satellite dish, cable or broadband connection and box. . . . except in our house.

After six years with BT TV, during which we had sports channels and a movie service on our trusty old box and broadband line, we were sent something called YouView. It didn’t work. No “extra” channels were available.

Long story short, although we live near the centre of the city, it’s a conservation area which super-fast Infinity broadband (required to operate the new box) has not yet reached. So, no sport, no movies . . .

nothing. BT couldn’t help, and admitted there was no option for us but to cancel the TV part of their operation and move to one of their competitors.

So the introduction of super-fast broadband means things don’t work any more, and the company offering it loses customers? No wonder Which? rates BT’s broadband call centre worst in the UK. It’s a tough sell.

How can left and right be united?

AMID talk of the Labour Party possibly splitting to go left in Scotland and right in England, I fail to see how the two opposite extremes can come together in any future general election as one party across the UK, and what its eventual policies would be.

Surely any such plan to fracture so widely across the border is tantamount to an admission that the two countries are so different in outlook, independence is inevitable.

He’s got it, by George!

GEORGE Clooney, who’s never even been hitched before, has clearly already worked out the strategy for a happy marriage. “My wife is smarter than me,” he said. Wise man.

Look what she went and did..

SCOTTISH Education Secretary Angela Constance probably won a lot of support when she said she was astonished that some teachers didn’t prioritise literacy. But she also got mocked for going on to discuss the topic as if she was reading a stilted, amateur report full of meaningless jargon phraseology.

However, it was listening to her on Radio Scotland that made me wince. How could anyone lecturing about literacy say “we have went”?