This afternoon the government will bring a bill to parliament that will nationalise the troubled bank Northern Rock. Only the Tories are expected to oppose it.
Virgin's bid for the bank - frankly an insult to the taxpayer was, as even the treasury admitted "out of the ballpark". I wish I could of seen the look on Richard Branson's face when the Alistair Darling told him the government wouldn't accept his ridiculous offer - expecting the taxpayer to prop up his attempts at profiteering what planet is he living on?
As I mentioned back in my post some months ago when this issue first made its appearance, nationalisation was the only solution to effectively safeguard the money that has gone out of the public coffers in order to protect people's savings and mortgages.
The Tories of course think shareholders should come first, that they should get a fair and reasonable offer - frankly they should get nothing, they know the risks of the stock market, they're all too keen to pocket the winnings, yet don't want to take the risks when they lose. It was after all their short-sighted profiteering as well as the management that created this crisis in the first place.
The nerve of some of these people is unbelievable, a few choice quotes from the BBC website. One guy writes:
Northern Rock is a Private Limited Company.
Correction: It was a Private Limited Company. Now it is owned by the British public.
If the Government simply takes it over without paying us a fair price (which I consider to be the book value of about £4 per share), then this is nothing short of THEFT.
£4 per share! You're having a laugh mate, the shares closed at 90p on Friday! If it wasn't for the government intervening in propping up Northern Rock in November your shares would be worth nothing.
And from somebody else, this made it to the BBC opinions piece, along with many other pro-shareholder views:
She questions why the government did not make the decision to nationalise earlier, when share prices were stronger.
Gee, because the government were really keen to get rid of the problem and hand it over to Richard Branson? Because the government however incompetent you think they are, aren't going to be paying ridiculous prices to compensate shareholders - they're spending taxpayers money after all, and our interest it to get the cheapest possible price.
"Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown have made a real mess of everything. It's a Whitehall farce." Now Northern Rock is being nationalised, Sylvia intends to move the remainder of her savings to another bank, because she does not trust her money in government hands.
That's rich coming from somebody who had her money in a business that was so poorly run would of gone bust had the government not stepped in.
She also needs a history lesson by the looks of it:
"Look at what happened to the carmaker Rover when it was nationalised. The company went bust", she added.
Rover was effectively nationalised in 1975 because they were hanging on the edge of collapse and they were considered a key part of the British economy, where they continued to operate quite successfully until 1988 when they were privatised by the Tories - a move which began their steady decline.
Still left to be decided is how much the shareholders will be paid, this will be decided by a panel set up to look at the question.
My thoughts are the government should absolutely not offer anything above 90p per share. Ideally I'd like to see the entire bank brought for a handsome sum of £1, we'll let the shareholders fight over trying to divide that up.
Alistair Darling has however admitted he wants to sell Northern Rock back to the private sector as soon as the taxpayer gets their money back. I'd like to see a more long-term commitment, one which won't have large sections of the Northern Rock staff made redundant like they would of been under Virgin's plans, the business should continue to operate as normal and remain under public ownership for as long as necessary, such a business will get a better price than one which suffers from a quick round of cuts to quickly move it into profitability for privitisation.