James Forsyth

A mutual decision?

A mutual decision?
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There is an interesting little story tucked away in today’s Daily Mirror, the government might only sell off Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley on condition that they are turned into mutually-owned societies. Jason Beattie reports that the idea of turning them back into building societies is being backed by John McFall, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, and 29 other Co-Operative party Labour MPs.

I suspect that if Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley are de-nationalised this side of the election, something that I suspect Brown would like to do, the price will be the key determinant. But, politically, I can see the appeal of insisting that they be turned into mutuals; it would be a way of signalling that lessons —albeit, not necessarily the right ones — had been learned from the crash. It would also challenge the Tories, who have flirted with the idea of co-operatives, to say whether they agree or not.