So, former city banker and new Archbishop of Canterbury. The Most Rev Justin Welby has decided the Church of England should put some of its vast fortune into supporting credit unions as a way of challenging the high interest legal loan sharks of the instant cash industry.
This brings us once again to the issue of religion and politics, faith and ethics. This square never seems to be circled because, as with all human inventions, such concepts are abstract and open to interpretation.
Wonga seems to be the chief target of both political and ethical attacks yet the company is only symptomatic of a much wider industry that legally targets those who are desperate for cash before their next ‘pay day’ or ‘giro day.’ It’s the same bunch who target poor people with cheap furniture that they can pay off ‘bit by bit’ for EVER!
You know the names; QuickQuid, PoundsToPockets, KwickCash, FancyAPayDay, Cashsorted, Quickloansnocreditcheck – all internet based that allow you to chose your amount and period with little or nothing in the way of pesky bureaucracy and underwriters.
They target people like Mick, who left prison a year ago and had no money to refurbish his flat.
“I opened up a bank account but the bank wouldn’t lend me money because of my past credit rating, so my mate told to get onto Experion, who offer a free thirty day trial and point you to other loan companies. I only wanted a few grand to get my flat carpeted and buy some furniture but the only ones who Experion put me onto were like Wonga and Amigo Loans. Even the names are a joke; Amigo, it’s like they’re bandits robbing you. In the end I looked at the interest rate which something like three million % and decided to forget it. It took me another year to get the bank to loan me a thousand pounds, but on a card and I was working so fuck knows how those on benefits get on.”
Yet despite portraying itself as some beacon of ethical investment, the Church of England has enjoyed supporting some very dodgy organisations in the past.
In his 2012-2013 report, the chair of the church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) boasts about his progress with regards to some pretty nasty bedfellows. Quite apart from tutting at the likes of Murdoch’s dead schoolkid hacking News International, Palestinian occupying Veolia Environment and bauxite mining, land rapists, Vedanta Resources, the best bit is this hilarious comment on Barclays bank.
“In June 2012, it was announced that Barclays Bank had been fined approximately £290million for seeking to manipulate Libor, the London inter-bank lending rate, which underpins trillions of pounds of loans and financial contracts.
This was thje latest in a series of scandals associated with the bank, which, like many of its peers, had lost sight of its fundamental role in society and its wider obligations….however, ethical conduct can’t simply be enforced. We will know that barcalys has truly transformed when it inspires its staff to make sustainable profits through serving its customers and fulfilling its fundamental role in society. We were delighted that the new chief executive of Barclays, Anthony Jenkins, shared a platform at St Paul’s cathedral on 12th June with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss ‘Good Banks’.
So, in this world of moral relativism, Wonga is a wrong un but Barclays is bona fide. Just as religious texts and dogma can lead to schism, civil war and murder, so The Church of England’s ‘ethical investment’ policy can be read in many different ways.
Maybe it’s just a matter of scale. Wonga is an easy target. Barclays on the other hand has a ‘fundamental role is society to play’ that is just seems to have lost sight of. Maybe this role just fell down the back of the settee. Still, everything’s OK, the two new kids on the block have shared a platform together, old school tie Masonic hypocrisy? How cynical!
But some people are taking a stand. Newcastle player, Papiss Cisse is facing the sack for refusing to wear his Wonga sponsored club shirt on ethical grounds. Now, some say that the muslim player is himself guilty of double standards as he didn’t take the same decision when Newcastle were sponsored by Dicky Branson’s cuddly ‘Virgin Money’ but Dick’s no loan shark, he’s legit, he’s got the planes and trains to prove it.
The Church of England is every much a part of the incestuous cabal of aristocrats, financiers and industrialists who form the inner temple of the British establishment. The church itself was created in order for King Henry VIII to rob the Pope and shag Anne Boleyn. It has protected and supported thieves, murderers, torturers, enslavers and tyrants all through its 400 year history and has the blood of millions upon its virginal cassocks.
Justin Welby may like to pretend that the Anglican church stands apart from the city and the toffs who have always sought to do their ‘fundamental duty to society’ by enriching themselves and their shareholders fortunes at the expense of the common citizen but in reality, it’ll take more than tokenistic attacks on the ethical sitting duck payday loan providers to persuade us that ethics is fundamental to the church’s wider obligation to society.