Protest: You bunch of bankers!
People are finding fun ways to give Barclays a bashing. But a campaign to make people transfer their cash is getting serious results
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Friday 06 July 2012
Barclays bashing is the internet même de jour. Yesterday Michael Spicer, an enterprising YouTube sketch comedian, posted a redubbed Barclays television commercial, in which he imitates the down-to-earth delivery of the bank's voiceover man, Stephen Merchant. "This one's about the London Interbank Offered Rate," Spicer mutters in a Bristol accent, over a clip of a woman turning a giant egg timer. "The woman represents Barclays and she's manipulating the Libor to help boost the banks profits… shocking greed, in a handy metaphor." Then a Photoshopped fake poster ad for the troubled bank's mortgages raced around Twitter: "For the best fixed rates," it said.
Meanwhile, a few months ago, someone in London printed stacks of stickers saying "Fuck" in the Barclays font, and affixed them to the capital's Barclays-sponsored rental bikes; the branded back wheels now suggest: "Fuck Barclays". A seven-strong Quaker-led music group from Crouch End occupied their local branch to play a lute-and-flute cover of singer-songwriter Steve Tilston's "Pretty Penny": "They just push numbers all about/ They push too hard, we bail them out/ Just to keep their hands on fortunes' wheel." Wit, cynicism, ridicule, folk music: is this really the best way to get back at Barclays for its employees' dubious activities? What else can the average punter do while the FSA gets its act together?
A more constructive answer may lie with the Move Your Money campaign, which on Wednesday staged a protest outside one of the bank's Westminster branches. The organisation wants to encourage and educate people in shifting their assets to more ethically-minded institutions than the major high-street banks. The website moveyourmoney.org.uk lists 53 building societies, 66 community development finance institutions, 580 credit unions and six banks that it considers sound, including Charity Bank, The Co-operative Bank, Ecology Building Society, Triodos, Unity and Islamic Banking.
The group was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is made up of volunteers, including many disgruntled recent graduates. And it seems some of the wider public share their ideas. The Nationwide Building Society is boasting a 26 per cent week-on-week rise in the number of new accounts being opened since last week. The Co-op Bank has seen a 25 per cent increase in current account applications, while the Charity Bank claims a 200 per cent increase in new customers in the first six months of this year.
Move Your Money volunteer Joel Benjamin says, "The idea is to grow the ethical finance sector, to take on the economic and political power of big banks. We're not a political organisation; we're creating a space for people to find information."
In 2010, actor and former footballer Eric Cantona urged his fellow Frenchmen to withdraw their money from banks en masse, with little success. Last year in the US, however, the grassroots Bank Transfer Day campaign resulted in 600,000 consumers switching from big banks to community institutions and credit unions in a single day. Behind the gags and guffaws of the more fun-filled protests, it seems that it pays to put your money where your morals are.
- 1 Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
- 2 Man cooked alive with 12,000 pounds of tuna
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
Bali Nine executions live: Indonesian firing squad shoots dead eight drug offenders despite outcry around world, but a ninth is spared
Keith Harris dead: Orville the Duck ventriloquist dies aged 67 following battle with cancer
Man cooked alive with 12,000 pounds of tuna
General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...
£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...