The Chairman of the Co-op Group has ‘fallen upon his sword’ amid allegations of impropriety concerning the former Chairman of the Co-op Bank – Reverend Paul Flowers, whom he appointed back in 2010. This comes only a couple of weeks after the Co-op Bank admitted that hundreds of jobs are under threat because of the losses which the bank has incurred in the last couple of years. This whole sorry episode is in part explained by the problems in the banking industry but actually has as much to do with internal Labour Party and Co-op politics.
The secret filming of Reverend Flowers attempting to buy drugs exposes his hypocrisy as he was reported as being Chairman of a drug abuse charity. Reverend Flowers had previously been a Labour Councillor in Rochdale and Bradford (1988-2011) and in 2010 was appointed by Ed Miliband to the Labour Party’s ‘Finance & Industry Board’. When he was appointed as Chairman of Co-op Bank, back in the dying days of the last Labour Government, he had never worked in ‘any senior capacity’ within the banking industry. This is in effect a rather pleasant way of saying that he was not up to the job! In fact the BBC Business Editor – Robert Peston has described Reverend Flowers of having “no grasp of basic facts” about the bank, neither its assets or its investments.
So why was such an incompetent and seemingly unethical person appointed to such a responsible position. The Financial Services Authority which should have been overseeing major appointments in the banking industry during the last Labour Government has much to explain. Those heading that body at the time should be questioned. But realistically so should those in the last Labour Government – Alistair Darling (he of ‘Keep Scotland in the UK’) and Ed Balls explain what was going on. The Labour Party should be ashamed of allowing such an incompetent to have such responsibility, not least because hundreds of jobs are likely to be lost as a result.
However this isn’t just a Labour Party issue but actually goes the very heart of political life in Britain. Why was no action taken by the Coalition Government when the Co-op Bank Chief Executive resigned in 2011. Neville Richardson told the Treasury Select Committee a few weeks ago that he resigned in 2011 because he felt that the Co-op Bank was ‘biting off more than it could chew’. Surely the Treasury and the Bank of England were aware of Mr Richardson’s views but yet nothing was done.
The real losers in all this are the Co-op employees who will lose their jobs, they will suffer whereas all those who allowed this to happen will not.
This I believe is yet another example of how politics and big business is so closely interwoven, and how because of that the political establishment are able to hide their incompetence and lack of regard for the people of England.