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From: The Socialist issue 733, 12 September 2012: Build a 24-hour general strike

Search site for keywords: Banks - Nationalise - Mortgages - PCS - Northern Rock

Nationalise the banks

DWP group president Fran Heathcote (with flag) at Leeds Remploy picket line, 26.7.12 , photo K Williams

DWP group president Fran Heathcote (with flag) at Leeds Remploy picket line, 26.7.12 , photo K Williams

This is an extract of the speech given at the TUC congress by Fran Heathcote, group president of PCS in the Department for Work and Pensions, in support of a motion from the Fire Brigades Union on nationalising the banks.

PCS welcomes this motion from the FBU.

Much of the banking sector was nationalised by Labour in 2007-08 - not in the interests of working and middle class people but to prop up the broken financial system that was brought to the verge of disaster. To date this has cost 500 billion in total. But what have we got to show for it?

I live in the North East and Northern Rock was taken over in 2007 after selling dodgy sub-prime mortgages in the scandal that triggered the credit crunch. I'm sure we can all remember the queues of people trying to get their savings out. But last November, four years after being bailed out, the profitable half of it was sold to Virgin for 747 million - less than half of what the taxpayer injected into it when it was split in 2010.

80% of RBS has been nationalised yet it is being investigated as part of the Libor scandal which fixed interest rates between banks. The Libor also affected the mortgages and loans of ordinary people and penalised them. Small business people have been swindled, with one person reportedly paying back extra 70,000 on her loan because of the illegally fixed interest rate.

Incidentally, these are the people who can be won behind the union movement, when we take joint action and show that we're the most powerful force that can resist the Con-Dems and their rich friends.

Even Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said this week: "It's time we used the stick on the banks we own and nationalise RBS instead of force feeding them carrots." Millions of our members are struggling to pay their mortgages or ripped off by the banks and small businesses who can't get credit wouldn't think that this is a radical motion.

If the banks were nationalised and democratically run, taken out of the control of the greedy fat cats, it wouldn't just open up the door to cheap mortgages and loans.

It could be the platform for a totally different type of society that represented the 99% of us who would benefit from the type of socially useful investment on a massive scale that could ensure decent jobs, housing and public services for all. This is our alternative to Cameron's austerity.

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Article dated 12 September 2012

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