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Jun 20th, 2013

George Osborne and the Mansion House Speech

By Robin Priestley

38 Degrees staff and volunteers at the Mansion House in London.

Yesterday,  we all read in the papers that George Osborne was planning on flogging off our publicly-owned bank, RBS, on the cheap. He was due to make an announcement that evening at the annual Mansion House speech.

Nimble as ever, a petition was launched demanding that he didn’t sell off our bank at bargain basement prices. We called for him to listen to the commission on banking (set up by Osborne himself)  and examine all the options on the table. Thousands of us called for him to decide what’s best for the economy and the British people, not just the bankers.

Within hours there were tens of thousands of signatures on the petition, so a group of 38 Degrees staff and volunteers dashed down to Mansion House just before George was due to arrive in order to hand in the petition.  Members had been tweeting messages to George Osborne all day so he’d seen the petition growing and growing.

With press and police surrounding the building, we waited by the front door for George to arrive.  Ambassadors, bankers and more flowed into the building, but George was no-where to be seen.

As the time for his speech approached, we were informed by a policeman that George had been tipped off that we were waiting for him, and his team had snuck him in a side entrance so that he didn’t have to meet us.

In good news though, at the speech he abandoned his plan for a quick RBS sell-off!

This is a huge step in the right direction. But all the options for RBS’s future need to be looked at. He’s just said he’ll have a limited review into splitting RBS into a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bank. He’s ignoring a whole range of other ideas – from public ownership right through to breaking it up into smaller local banks.

60,000 of us have now signed the petition calling for a full, open and transparent review and public pressure is already having an effect on Osborne. Now we need to ramp it up a notch and make sure he acts in the best interests of those who actually own RBS – us, the taxpayers.

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