Roger Bolton reflects on the ‘cancellation’ of Nigel Farage by posh bank Coutts
- a public figure’s bank account is cancelled
- what are the broad social implications?
- what are the specific Christian implications?
The basic story
For the benefit of any non-UK readers, Nigel Farage is the former leader of political party UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) and was a key figure in the Brexit event. Politically he is on the right of the spectrum and might today be referred to as a 1960s Conservative, holding to broadly ‘traditional’ political and social norms.
To the political Left, however, he is viewed as ‘toxic’ in the sense he is a successful interlocutor for national identity, independence from foreign power blocs, for Sterling currency, and for financial freedom. Yet it was his success in being the key leader of the Brexit campaign that made him an absolute pariah for the so-called ‘mainstream’ media (see our comment next month on ‘mainstream’) and the political left. Farage is often referred to as ‘far-right’ which, as a commentator, I consider sheer nonsense. (I have a buddy who describes the Daily Mail as a far-right newspaper. Whatever one’s views on the Daily Mail, to describe it as ‘far right’ is risible. Today anything that the mainstream media does not like is routinely described as ‘far right’).
For some years Farage has been warning about the drift towards ‘financial martial law’, and that the State aims to control people’s money as never before. He was an early bell-weather on the subject of Chinese style CBDC (central bank digital currency) which is aimed to replace cash entirely, and where a number of implications follow:
(1) the State will know every pound, dollar or euro that you spend (2) it will be possible to apply a shelf-life to currency (i.e. you don’t ‘spend’ then the currency itself expires) (3) the State may control what you buy and consume (4) the State will be able to determine if your social interactions are positive or negative and will be able to prevent you from supporting certain political parties, and/or apply social penalties against those who ‘do’ things that the State does not like. Finally, the elimination of traditional currency and increasing State regulation of banks means that when the Banks next ‘crash’ (only a matter of time) the State will be able to regulate ‘bail-in’, as opposed to ‘bail-out’, and we as individuals will all foot resulting bills directly from our digital bank accounts.
When Farage first warned of these outcomes some stated his ideas were preposterous, yet progressively they seem to be coming true.
Today we live in a cancel culture, courtesy of the socio-political advance of Cultural Marxism and the whole ‘Woke’ agenda. Free speech has largely been cancelled (an assault on democracy?) and is being replaced by licensed-speech. In early July 2023 Nigel Farage had his bank account cancelled by Coutts Bank – universally known as the ‘posh’ bank for ‘posh’ people. Coutts is today a subsidiary of NatWest Bank which is 30% owned by the taxpayer, having been bailed-out as a result of the 2008 banking crisis. Arguably the UK Government should have, as largest ‘investor’, a big ‘say’ in how the Bank operates.
Coutts gave Farage no reason for his cancellation (the term used was actually “exited”) but told the media (via NatWest) it was because his accounts fell below the monetary threshold required by the Bank. Farage made a subject access request to Coutts which supplied documents running to 40 pages. Interestingly, the Coutts dossier says ‘repeatedly’ that Farage met the EC (economic contribution) criteria. The BBC reported the false monetary claim and subsequently apologized. The day these words are written (this is a still developing story) NatWest’s CEO – Dame Alison Rose – resigned, having confirmed it was she who told the media about Farage’s failure to meet EC criteria.
A whole host of practical questions arise from these basic facts, and the whiff of sheer managerial incompetence is strong. Britain’s banks and Media are today run by people born in the 1970s (so-called Generation X in sociological terms) with junior management drawn largely from the Millennial generation. At managerial level (socio-economic groups A and B) both ‘generations’ are broadly left-leaning and liberal-progressive. The single word ‘woke’ is perhaps not too far from reality in describing this particular cohort ……
Nigel Farage was “exited” as a client from Coutts because the Bank’s “Reputational Risk Committee” had determined that he “doesn’t align with our values”. Apparently the 40 page dossier mentions Brexit 86 times (I confess I’ve not read it) and adds Farage’s acquaintance with Donald Trump and Novak Djokovic as factors in their decision.
It is not the purpose of this article to try to uncover managerial incompetency but key questions arising seem to be these:
- Where was the Coutts regulatory compliance team when the Reputational Risk Committee made its decision? Did they approve? Were they even in the loop? If yes, was this a compliance overreach?
- Where was the Coutts legal counsel when the Reputational Risk Committee made its decision? Did they approve? Were they even in the loop? Did they not foresee a legal challenge?
- Given that Farage is such a high-profile person, did Coutts/NatWest seriously think they could get away with what appears to amount to an egregious abuse of economic power (even a political vendetta)? If so why did they think this? (Sheer incompetence again springs to mind).
Beyond the question of competency, other bigger issues emerge. As a result of the high-level Farage case, 10,000 subject access requests have been made by individuals and businesses that have had their bank accounts summarily closed. Incidentally Farage confirmed he approached some ten UK banks that refused him an account. The purpose here seems to be for the banks to ‘close ranks’ and ‘cancel’ this individual’s ability to transact business in the UK. This is almost like the old communist idea of ‘internal exile’ imposed by the State upon those it does approve of. All very troubling ……
Specific Christian implications
Banks are regulated businesses and it is a generic fact that without a bank account an individual cannot enter-into economic life. Whilst in the era of cash people could economically interact outside of the banking system and even live in what was once called the ‘informal economy’, in a cashless society this becomes impossible. The power of the Banks (and it must be said, of the governments that regulate them) is becoming total – and it seems they are now eager to exercise that ‘power’.
If banks can cancel accounts then why not the utilities (water, gas, telecoms etc, and is a bank in fact a financial utility?) for precisely the same reasons? If a gas company’s political correctness department (D&I – see link below) was to announce that some of its staff feel ‘threatened’ or ‘harassed’, or ‘uncomfortable’ servicing a particular client’s gas boiler because the customer “doesn’t align with our values”, then who is to oppose them? Cancel culture puts enormous power in the hands of minor apparachiks, and senior managers may well choose to turn a blind eye …..
At the most basic level we are seeing a society emerge in which saying (and even thinking) the “wrong” things can get one socially cancelled. And this is extending into the financial sphere, such that unacceptable “views” can today be punished by relatively junior organizational apparachiks. Presently people have a right of appeal. When will that “right” be withdrawn? It may simply take a change of government to do so ……
Normative Christian worldview and specific teachings are increasingly at odds with social mores, despite much of the ‘woke’ church seeking to absorb and promote those same mores. Our understanding of marriage, of child bearing, of bodily autonomy and morals generally run counter to the world’s view and in the West we are living in a determinedly post-Christian culture, with implications for democracy well beyond the church itself. How long will it be before churches (and individual Christians) can no longer hold Bank accounts, or can only hold them providing they formally sign-up to and affirm a set of social values set by the Bank (or the Regulator)? How long before we are told our views ‘do not align’ with the Bank’s?
The future ……
The Bible tells us two distinct things about the world’s financial future, and neither makes for good reading, depending on your specific viewpoint. The first is that in the End –Time, or that time universally known as ‘tribulation’, no one can buy and sell without the mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:17). Christians have long understood this to mean that, in some sense not yet fully understood, Christians will find themselves economically exiled. The recent shenanigans of Coutts Bank provides a plausible (and I would say, likely) insight into how this will be effected. Without a ‘mark’ of approval, you are internally exiled – your ‘accounts’ being closed.
The second is that “in one hour” (Revelation 18: verses 17 and 19) the world’s economic systems will crash, never to arise again in the same way. This is associated with the fall of Babylon, a subject that has many and varied interpretations; yet this much is clear, the economic fall will be total, universal and virtually instantaneous. With the rise of CBDC, a financial system build totally on reputation and confidence, the rise of ‘funny money’ (quantitative easing), of financial contagion, and of systems built totally within cyberspace, it is entirely feasible that financial hegemony can end in one hour flat. Perhaps the most likely scenario (albeit we really should not speculate too much on this) is a widespread but limited nuclear war that does not destroy all Mankind, but which destroys the World’s economic powerhouses.
So, Farage’s financial farrago may hold clues to the future, and suggest something of the World’s proximity to Tribulation. Despite warning signs (and these are aplenty!) the Bible is certain that Mankind continues on his own merry way, refusing to change his ways and in a headlong rush to oppose his Creator God at every turn. The one word that summarizes Mankind’s attitude is the Biblical one – pride – sheer self-destructive pride. See a link to this theme below.
Pride Before Destruction
Diversity and Inclusion – Jesus got there first