Iain Banks, the acclaimed Scottish sf and thriller writer, has joined with an illustrious list of prominent Scots in calling on the British government to reform the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS received a titanic tax-funded bailout (much of which was diverted into a stupendous pension for Fred Goodwin, the bank's erstwhile CEO, who led it to ruin), which means that the taxpayer is now a major shareholder in the bank. But the bank is still refusing to lend to Britons who need mortgages, preferring instead to make dirty investments in climate-wrecking tar-sands in Alberta, as well as taking the astonishing step of loaning money to Kraft, an American firm, which is trying to buy Cadbury's a British firm — if Kraft succeeds, then RBS will have funnelled British workers' pay into a loan that resulted in the shut-down of British factories and sent British jobs to America.
More than 30 signatories, including Gordon Roddick, who founded the Body Shop with his late wife Anita, leading green campaigner Tony Juniper and Rev Ian Galloway, convenor of the Church of Scotland, take the government to task for failing to push RBS and the other bailed-out banks into supporting socially useful investments.
In their letter, written to mark the first anniversary of the British taxpayer becoming its largest shareholder, they call on Darling to transform RBS into the "Royal Bank of Sustainability".
The strongly-worded communication criticises the Treasury for standing on the sidelines while RBS took a controversial decision to support US foods group Kraft in its bid for chocolate maker Cadbury, despite the fact the bid will put jobs at risk and therefore work against the interests of the UK taxpayer. The bank's conduct has also raised eyebrows in the City because it breached protocol by neglecting to inform Cadbury of its planned defection to the Kraft camp, despite having a decades-long relationship with the confectioner.