Last week I saw the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral. Whilst those sleeping in tents seem to be doing so for a variety of reasons, one recurrent theme is their criticism of banks and bankers.
I thought about their protest on Friday after two of my constituency visits – one to a business called Gemalto and the other to the homelessness hostel run by Two Saints in Gosport Road, Fareham.
The link between St Paul’s and the second visit is evident. At St Paul’s, people are sleeping outside as a form of protest. In the hostel people who don’t have a home of their own have somewhere other than the streets to sleep.
So what is the link between Gemalto and St Paul’s? If you look inside your wallet or purse and look at a bank card, if it is from Barclays or Lloyds, chances are it has been made by Gemalto.
It employs hundreds of people in Fareham and Havant in making these cards. These are jobs that are supported by the financial system that the people outside St Paul’s are protesting against.
Just down the road from Gemalto, in Segensworth, is a call centre owned by Lloyds Banking Group plc. For the people who work in Gemalto or the Lloyds call centre, it’s the success of the financial services sector that helps them pay their bills.
The protest outside St Paul’s is a reminder of the anger felt by many about the banks.
But the vast majority of people who work in financial services aren’t earning big bonuses or driving flash cars.
We shouldn’t forget that people living in the Gosport Road hostel would love a job in Lloyds or Gemalto that would put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
Yes, banking needs to be reformed and the government is taking action.
But let’s do it in a way that doesn’t harm those who depend upon it the most.