The good thing that came out of the banking crisis was the chance to break the existing pattern of the industry by doing something constructive with the bank we taxpayers own and the two that we part own. Northern Rock in particular could have been returned to the mutual sector, from which it originated and to which it belonged for most of its existence. This would have provided a boost to the growing mutual, profit-sharing and co-operative sector of which Liberals have been keen advocates for most of our existence
Even better, in my view, Northern Rock could have been retained in public ownership and charged with the duty, not of maximising profits, but of providing investment finance at low rates of interest to businesses in its area, on the model of some of the German banks. That is just what the depressed North East needs and is in the fine tradition of the original Northern Rock, with its strong local roots and tradition of service to the local community.
Instead Northern Rock has been flogged off at a bargain price to the private sector: a return to the Tory practice established in the 1980s of flogging off public assets (comparable to the family silver, said Harold Macmillan) to their mates.