Daily View 2×2: 1 November 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. And we’ve got the definitive musical proof that Australian Premier Kevin Rudd is not US President Barack Obama. But first, the news.

2 Big Stories

Government to set up bank chains
Done well, this could be rather good news. A bit more competition in the banking sector could improve service, reduce costs and – by undermining some of the basis for massive bank profits – indirectly help deal with massive bonus payments:

Three new High Street banking chains are to be created by the government by 2015 as part of a major overhaul.

They will be set up by breaking up Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Northern Rock, the banks it partially or wholly controls after bail-outs…

The aim of the new banks is to increase competition and recoup taxpayers’ cash.

The government, which holds a 70% stake in RBS and a 43% stake in Lloyds after last October’s bailouts, hopes to announce the sell-off plans on Tuesday.

The new banks will be standard retail banks concentrating on deposits and mortgages.

They will be sold to new entrants to the banking market and not to existing financial institutions. (BBC)

Ministers face rebellion over drug tsar’s sacking
The Guardian reports:

The decision by the home secretary, Alan Johnson, to call on Professor David Nutt to resign as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has thrown the future of the respected independent body into severe doubt. There were claims last night that many of those who sit on the 31-strong council – which advises ministers on what evidence there is of harm caused by drugs – may resign en masse, raising serious doubts about how ministers will justify policy decisions.

Several were this weekend seeking urgent reassurances from the government that it will not try to control their agenda and will allow them to speak out before they decide whether to quit. One is said to have already resigned…

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat chairman of the science and technology select committee, said he was seeking clarification from the Home Office. “We are going back to what George Bush did when for eight years he put science back into the doldrums because his administration would not take advice except from trusted people,” Willis said. “Is that what we want in the UK?”

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

Sunday Bonus: Kevin Rudd is not Barack Obama

Enjoy this from the Australian political comedy show, The Chaser, via YouTube, complete with a special guest appearance for that favourite political standby, “working families”:

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11 Comments

  • Before we had Lloyds, Hailfax, RBS & Northern Rock, i.e. 4 banks. Now govt is going to create 3 banks. That looks like less competition to me, not more.

    I also wonder, in an internet based age, whether more High St banks are what is needed to increase competition. Moneysupermarket is rarely short of credit cards, mortgage offers, loans, savings products. Different for small biz, perhaps, but I am not convinced small biz needs more High St banks – is there evidence that finance is easier in towns that have all the major players already than in towns that do not?

  • Herbert Brown 1st Nov '09 - 10:04am

    Surprised not to see any comment here on this story:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/oct/30/councillors-resign-en-masse-blogger

    Or did I miss it?

  • Pavement Politico 1st Nov '09 - 1:18pm

    Tim, Gov’t is definitely creating 3 new banks; possibly more as I under stand it…

    Lloyds is considering splitting Lloyds in England/Wales and TSB(?) in Scotland, possibly also a Tesco’s bank.
    RBS is splitting into RBS (Scotland) and Williams and Glyn’s (Eng/Wales)
    Northern Rock will split into the nationalised Northern Rock and probably a Virgin Bank.
    Don’t think Halifax is splitting up.

    So that’s 3 new chains right there alongside the older 4.

  • David Heigham 1st Nov '09 - 4:07pm

    So the Governement intends to sell all of these to non-financial institutions. It is a change for New Labour not to sell to chums in the City (just as the Tories did). However, the combination of low receipts for the Treasury/us taxpayers, with the likelihood of one or more of the new managements getting into financial trouble, is familiar.

    Why not set up one or two of these new banks as Mutuals, on the models of the Co-op Bank or of Building Societies?
    The Treasury could take its receipts in debt issued by the new banks; and be sure of getting a respectable price for once. They could sell that debt when they wished. We would see different model of bank, not just different brands, competing for our custom.

  • Andrew Suffield 1st Nov '09 - 6:25pm

    I followed up on that claim about equal pay, and found that (a) they cite ONS as their source for the raw data, and (b) the ONS report does not support their conclusions, and in fact indicates that the low-end and median hourly earnings for women in the part-time sector are slightly higher than the earnings for men, while in the top 10%, women earn around 25% less than men. The well-known gender pay gap only appears in the full-time sector. Nothing in the report supports a claim of a 41% pay gap. Furthermore, their detailed claims broken down by local authority are directly contradicted by the report.

    I find these claims extremely suspicious. It appears that the numbers have been doctored somehow.

  • David Heigham 1st Nov '09 - 7:05pm

    Andrew Suffield is right. The pay gap story fits the data about as wll as Labour policy fits the scientific evidence

  • I have no further info – I hope I am wrong, although spliting the E&W arm from the S arm does not add to competition. But I wonder in an internet age why we have so many branches. I call in occasionally if I am passing with a cheque to pay in, but these days internet and telephone banking seem to work pretty well. Branches are very expensive things, particularly with UK land prices

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