Public want failing banks nationalised

By Laura Miller

Government moves to completely nationalise banks already under partial state control would be supported by the British public, a poll suggests.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents believed the best way forward for bailed out banks is the action shareholders and bankers fear most – full nationalisation.

But despite such popular support, few industry experts recommend shifting privately owned banks wholesale into the public sector – with all of the added debt that would entail for the taxpayer.

“When the public say they want nationalistion they probably don’t understand the full implications of that,” Lesley McLeod, spokesperson for the British Bankers Association, told

The financial sector brings a lot of money into the UK, she said, warning that might not be the case if ailing banks were nationalised across the board.

“Banks run better in the private sector, there’s more competition meaning a better ROI [return on investment] for the customer,” she continued.

If the public misunderstand the finer points of nationalisation, they are certain in their desire for change. Only 15 per cent thought keeping banks as they are was the best course of action.

Change was also demanded in the pay structure. Big city bonuses, which often run to many times an employee’s annual salary, should be stopped, users said.

Ninety per cent of respondents believed bankers did not deserve the money.

Around ten per cent were undecided over the issue, none of those who took part in the poll thought bankers should be rewarded for their role in one of the biggest financial crises in history.

Surprisingly, only 40 per cent hold banker’s responsible for the meltdown.

The sector may find cold comfort in not being the sole recipients of public censure. Twenty-five per cent of respondents blamed Gordon Brown’s government for the crisis; five per cent thought journalists were responsible; and 30 per cent blamed all three.

Given that Gordon Brown’s popularity is suffering in almost every poll – most recently this month’s ComRes poll for the Independent, which put the government 16 points behind the Tories – it is perhaps unsurprising that the vast majority of respondents criticised the PM for not being tough enough on bankers.