Owen Jones wants to tell us that an LGBT bank – well, actually, an LGBT credit union – would be an absolutely spiffing idea. Sparklingly so.
Excellent, great. We’re in an economic system of free market capitalism. Off you go and start one then. It’s not a matter of public policy whether you do or you don’t. Scrabble together the money to set one up and you’ll be able to set one up. People do found banks all the time. They also found credit unions. All you need is enough people – or perhaps enough votes in the form of pound coins – and off you go.
What’s stopping you?
Could such an initiative be replicated in the UK? Credit unions are a big deal in the US – nearly 117 million Americans were members last year; and while they have grown substantially in Britain, only two million people use them. But you can see the appeal of an LGBTQ financial institution. For same-sex couples, holding hands in the street, let alone finding somewhere to settle down together, can invite fears of hostile reactions in a society in which, to be blunt, millions of people still have homophobic prejudices, even if discrimination in the provision of goods and services is legally forbidden. There’s also the fact that, not least because LGBTQ services have been devastated by austerity, with charities forced to close. Could such an institution offer tailored loans for LGBTQ projects, such as the proposal for an LGBTQ community centre in London?
Go for it, why not?
Owen, you’ve 900,000 or so Twitter followers. If each of them kick in a tenner then you’ve enough to start a bank. A small one, to be sure, but you will get Bank of England/FSA/whoeverthehellitistoday authorisation. As long as you don’t make the Co Op Bank mistake and try to run it with people with no clue about banking. That includes meth taking Methodist Ministers.
If that’s too capitalist for you why not go that credit union route? The difference being that the depositors own the institution. Nowt wrong with a credit union either, even raging free market capitalists like myself are members of one. True, I had to kick in €500 of capital when I joined, something I’ll – hopefully and presumably – get back when I leave it. But that’s what a credit union means, that the members provide the capital thus the members own it.
If some reasonable piece of your Twitterati are willing to become depositors – and owners, their first couple of hundred £ being that capital base – then you’re in business.
This being the point here. This raging free market shit that we’re so oppressed by. This means that you get to go do these things. Because, you know, free market. So off you toddle.
Hmm, what’s that? There’s a certain problem with the mouth/money interface? Well can’t you just pull on those chaps and neon pink hotpants, climb aboard the pride truck and bugger off then?