Darling admits Labour failed industry
Former chancellor Alistair Darling has admitted more could have been done during the time of the Labour government to support the building societies sector.
Speaking at the Building Societies Association annual conference this morning, Mr Darling, who was chancellor at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, said there was now an opportunity to support mutuals.
Mr Darling, who oversaw nationalisation of Northern Rock and secured taxpayer stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, said: “We probably didn’t do as much as we should have done to ensure the sector survived.
“The is an opportunity now with the disposal of the Lloyds and RBS banking assets to ask ourselves what pattern of provision we want. Without action being taken, there is a chance it will recede as beforehand and these assets will be gobbled up.”
Asked whether he would have remutualised Northern Rock, Mr Darling said: “The only way it could have been remutualised was if someone could have come up with the capital to do it.
“I don’t think either ours or the present government would have been in any position to do it.”
Mr Darling said he would like to see a different financial institution on the high street and said he would support an acquisition of Lloyds branches up for disposal by the Co-operative Bank.
He said reform of the financial regulatory system should be supported but warned a “super regulator” under the Bank of England could have teething problems and must remember the importance of making the right judgments.