CO-OP SCANDAL: Bank Chairman Wardle quietly slips back into the Group shadows

lenwLucky Len (top left) will not be taking part in the burial of the Cooperative Bank. But his customers will.

After all the failures of demutualisation, the Co-op Bank is to demutualise. Why?

Architect of failure since 2007, Co-op Group Chairman Len Wardle has shuffled carefully away from the glare of fraud allegations at the troubled Banking subsidiary, and returned to the shady penumbra of Co-op Group affairs. He seems not be be facing much in the way of interrogation about how so many terrific Group dividends were declared (and the Bank grew itself a black hole) while he was in charge for six years. But he is believed to enjoy the protection of Ed Balls. Crony privilege, as ever, comes in all the sizes and all the colours.

Four Coop Bank directors in total – Duncan Bowdler, Peter Harvey, Bob Newton and Wardle  – are to quit the bank’s board, but will continue to serve as non-executive directors at the parent company The Co-operative Group….as opposed to being fired, or even better invited to explain to the SFO their actions during the time following the idiotic/arm-twisted acquisition of Britannia Building Society in 2009, when the bank fell into a completely unforeseen black hole of £1.5bn….while the Group (also chaired by Lenny) carried on declaring surpluses.

ballshiftyThe acquisition which was pushed through with the help of Wardle’s allies in the Labour government, notably Balls (left). Balls boasted the merger between a cooperative and a mutual (the first of its kind) would create a ‘super mutual’. What it actually created was a bank toxic enough to make Fukushima’s leak look like that from a luminous watch.

But Balls’ actions earned lavish praise from Wardle and other members of the Co-operative movement. And that life-saver for the Morley Mauler was returned in full by Ed over time. Thus a legislator who skirted the Party selection process, and a Co-op Party member who spent his entire career avoiding business experience have between them blown away Labour and the TUC’s main banker and donor. Further, they stand complicit in an attempt to get their Leftist allies out of a bear trap….by getting their own, impoverished supporters to cough up. And last but not least, this last bastion of cooperative values and ethics is to abandon that tradition entirely.

No wonder Ed Balls got short shrift from the TUC when he courted their support for a leadership bid.

Still, if nothing else, the flotation – now made by many of the recent allegations to appear dubious in the extreme – gives these privileged twerps a perfect excuse for the ‘reshuffle’. Yesterday the Bank said the soft-shoe routine was ‘part of preparations to increase its independence ahead of implementing capital plans announced earlier this year [leading to] the lender’s eventual flotation’.

But other shady regions of this regulator-to-Treasury scam disagreed. They said it was ‘to comply with the UK’s Corporate Governance Code’. Aaaaahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaahahahaha. Dear me.

The loss of mutual status for the Co-op bank is a disaster for the Left, and a Constitutional conundrum for Westminster: but ultimately, it’s yet another example of how the guilty go free, and the incompetent retain their salaries.

MPs, meanwhile, are saying – literally – nothing. It’s as if the Co-Op Bank didn’t exist. As indeed it won’t within a few months.


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