Sir Winfred Bischoff is the Chairman of the Lloyds Banking Group. Disregard the flak that has been directed towards the banks and bankers, the simple fact of the matter is this: To head up a large bank you must not only demonstrate the necessary skills and competence, your probity must be beyond question.
Unfortunately, this does not apply to the country’s politicians.
Back in 2008 at the height of the banking crisis, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling put a most extraordinary offer to LloydsTSB: To take over the bankrupt HBOS to form hugely dominant bank. In essence what was proposed was a Quid Pro Quo. In order for absorbing HBOS’s losses – which resulted in a huge cost to Lloyds shareholders – Lloyds would save the taxpayer from having to nationalise HBOS. In return for this huge sacrifice, the competition rules would be waived. The idea was that the taxpayer would be spared having to dig even deeper into their pockets in return for the prospect of future profits for the Lloyds shareholders as a result of the new bank’s dominant market share.
Now, judging from the contents of the government-appointed Independent Commission on Banking’s interim report commissioned by Osborne, it seems that Osborne wants to rewrite the deal. He wants Lloyds shareholders to still suffer the loss they have suffered but do not want them to reap all the eventual profits.
The writer must declare an interest. They are a Lloyds Bank shareholder. At the AGM he was not alone in advising Sir William that you cannot trust a politician. As it was pointed out to Sir William, both Brown and Darling who made the offer to Lloyds Bank were two men each of whom had stood in front of their Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second and with Holy Bible in hand took a solemn oath to ensure that “no foreign prince, potentate or power shall have precedence in this land” whilst at the same time co-operating in an unconstitutional venture to do just that!
Can Sir William expect George Osborne to behave more honourably?
Past experience should lower Sir William’s expectations.
Sir Winfred Bischoff, an honourable man who has the misfortune to have to treat with scoundrels.