Scrutator: Big Brother banks on you

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The Independent Online
LENINISM, you will be glad to hear, is alive and well and living in Britain's clearing banks. I only realised this when my bank started to return my cheques despite a number of - apparently unread - letters and frantic attempts to meet the manager.

I'd been a client of this branch of Lloyds for nigh on 40 years, for most of which they'd made a handsome profit out of my overdraft. But I was treated as though I was a second-hand car dealer liable to abscond to the Costa del Crime at any minute. I was told that unless an absurdly large sum of money was deposited instantly, I would be cut off without a penny.

A common enough story these days, but one which made me realise, for the first time in a sheltered life, that depriving anyone of the means of payment is the equivalent of depriving them of a large part of their liberty. Crucially, in taking this action, the banks can and do behave just like the dear- departed Communist Party of the old Soviet Union.

I had previously thought Lloyds, like other big organisations, merely bumbling - indeed, in Lloyds' case, basically benevolent. But I suddenly felt like an old Bolshevik who, rather belatedly, discovers the deep flaws in democratic centralism and the other doctrines of the Leninist state. I now see that the men who run the clearers are not interested in profit (or why would they lend so much to so many sleazes, megalomaniacs and simple crooks?) but power. This they wield unaccountably, undemocratically and without any regard for their powerless customers, who are treated like the subjects of a totalitarian state rather than as sources of present and future profits.

They know that their 'subjects' have little realistic hope of moving elsewhere, since all their so-called competitors display much the same behaviour patterns. (In Eastern Europe before 1979 there was little reason to leave, say, Stalinist Bulgaria for the goulash Bolshevism of Kadar's Hungary). They also know that they are free from government interference however insensitive their behaviour, since one of the more ludicrous tenets of Majorism is that only the public sector is capable of being oppressive.

The banks, like the dear old CPSU, are also profoundly hostile towards entrepreneurs, small businessmen or one-man bands like myself, whose cash flow has become increasingly unpredictable as the recession encourages big customers to exploit smaller suppliers.

In theory, of course, the banks' behaviour ought to be self-defeating. Indeed, they are steadily losing the custom of the younger generation, mainly to the building societies. But this doesn't help those with more complicated financial needs than a mortgage and a source of cash. They remain helpless victims of 'The System'.

PS. I have now seen my bank manager and he has explained the difficulties of the bank's situation and their leniency to one who, like myself, has strayed from the path of responsible behaviour.

I now understand Big Brother, and with understanding has come love for Him and respect for the burdens and responsibilities He bears for us all.