MYM campaign begins
Protestors queue outside Barclays to move their money
This morning Ethical Consumer joined campaigners and members of the public as they visited a Barclays branch in central London to move their money. Tim Hunt tells us more...
Today the Move Your Money campaign carried out the first in a series of protests aimed at getting people to divest from the big banks and invest with more ethical banks and building societies.
At around 8:30am, despite the bitter cold and the odd flake of snow, around 40 people queued outside the Barclays branch near Holborn waiting for it to open.
They were armed with letters for the bank and, having opened accounts elsewhere, were moving their money.
Molly, a social worker, 26 told me “I'm here because I'm in the process of moving my money. It's my really hard-earned money and why should it be invested in unethical and environmentally damaging projects and why should it be given to banks that we had to bail out for a crisis that they caused. It's so annoying.”
Another person in the queue, Leo Schwartz, said “I'm here principally because I don't believe in the unethical investment policies and the tax havens [that Barclays use]. I think in a time of massive cuts to public services it's ridiculous that you have institutions like banks that are dodging their responsibilities. I'm a key worker, I work with disadvantaged families and children. Hardly any of the cuts have come in yet and we are already seeing huge impacts.”
A letter from the campaigners to Barclays reads: “the British banking system isn't working for people, for the planet or for our society.” It continues: “Of all the big five banks Barclays receives the most complaints from the public to the Financial Services Authority. Abroad, Barclays invests in the arms trade including the manufacture of cluster munitions and depleted uranium.... Barclays supports oppressive regimes such as Mugabe's Zimbabwe and is estimated to avoid between £800 million and £1 billion in tax every year.”
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Cooperatives UK, has given his backing to the campaign saying, "At an individual level, you can't do everything to put an unfair economy right - but you can do something. Move Your Money is the new fair trade. It is THE campaign for our time."
Louis Brooke, a Spokesperson for Move Your Money said:
“Politicians may be able to pressure Hester into waiving his bonus but they can’t change the culture of banking. That’s up to us as citizens, consumers and investors. Moving Your Money sends a clear message to the big banks that it cannot be back to business as usual, we want a financial system which works in the interests of wider society not just the few.”
At around 9:00 the campaigners went inside the branch to present the letters and close their accounts.
You can read more about Barclays, (which scores 0.5 on our score table), and other banks in our new Special Report on Banking. Read it for free here.