Friday, April 23, 2010

Making banks work in all our interests

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Just signed up to support the Better Banking Campaign which call[s] for fundamental reform of the banking system [via]the introduction of four measures which will help ensure financial institutions serve the interests of all people, businesses and third sector organisations equally. These are:

*Transparency from banks about the communities they do and don’t serve

*An incentive structure to encourage banks to fully engage with people and businesses in all communities

*A cap on extortionate lending rates

*A commitment from banks to re-invest 1% of their profits for social benefit

Why was the Better Banking Campaign set up?

Over the past two years, billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been used to bail-out the banking sector. However, we believe that banks should be doing much more to deliver a genuine social return on our investment. Up to 9 million people aren’t able to access banking services in a fair and equal way in the UK, often forcing them to turn to high-cost lenders or loan sharks for help. The recession has also meant that small businesses, charities and social enterprises have struggled to access finance.

The financial crisis, along with the...General Election, have presented us with a once in a generation opportunity to transform the banking sector so that it works in the interests of us all. If we are able to take it, it could help eradicate long-term problems such as financial exclusion which have affected some of the most disadvantaged communities in our society for many years. The Better Banking Campaign works to ensure that this opportunity is not missed.

Spin at the Arnolfini; reality at the Thunderbolt | News

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Spin at the Arnolfini; reality at the Thunderbolt News

A mile from the Arnolfini media circus, a very different political viewpoint was being offered by campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell is well known for many years of brave campaigning against prejudice and for human rights, most notably recently for his attempts to make a 'citizens arrest' of the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. In last year's Observer Ethical Awards, he was named 'Campaigner of the Year' and he was in Bristol as the guest of the Bristol South Green Party.

In a very wide ranging talk, Mr Tatchell challenged the main parties' unquestioning commitment to keeping the neo-liberal economy that has brought us so close to financial meltdown, threatens environmental collapse as resources are consumed at ever higher rates, and creates social unrest by widening the gap between rich and poor.

"The Green Party", he said, "is the most progressive force in British politics, with a visionary agenda for democratic reform, social justice, human rights, global equity, environmental protection, peace and internationalism."

"The Greens realise that the whole economic system has to change, in order to meet people’s needs and to ensure the survival of life on this planet. We propose a synthesis of the best bits of red and green, combining social justice with sustainable economics.

"A good example of how we would do this is our proposed Roosevelt-style Green New Deal. It would stimulate the economy through large-scale government investment in socially and environmentally valuable energy conservation, renewable energy and cheap, hi-tech public transport.

"This would slash carbon emissions and tackle climate change, as well as cutting unemployment creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

"With more people in work, more people pay tax and national insurance, thereby boosting the public finances. With more people earning, they’ve got more money to spend. They go out and buy things, which creates demand and new jobs to meet this demand. This stimulates economic recovery. We all benefit."

All the city's four Green Party general election candidates for were there to hear Mr Tatchell: Glenn Vowles (Bristol East), Alex Dunn (Bristol North West), Charlie Bolton (Bristol South), and Ricky Knight (Bristol West). Local election candidates included Tess Green, who is defending Southville, the Greens' only seat in the city council chamber.

Peter Tatchell's website
Green Party General Election Manifesto