Tom Curtin Cartoon Coutts 24 July

The laws of journalism always apply

July 25th, 2023

When I teach journalism at business schools, one of my key rules is: you are ALWAYS on the record. Every comment, every aside, every joke is ‘on the record’.

This is especially so when the journalist says ‘just, between me and and you, and off the record…’ Cameras. Action. Roll. You’re on the front pages.

Now Coutts. It is the bank of the aristocracy in the UK. The King banks there. When, as Prince of Wales, Charles was given a total of £2.6m during meetings with a Qatari Sheikh, his flunkies had Coutts collect the cash (which was passed on to one of the Prince’s charities).

If you’re posh you bank at Coutts.

Otherwise you bank at NatWest of which more than 38 percent is owned by the UK government following the 2008 banking crisis. So it is a sign of true patriotism that the King’s bank is the people’s bank. It’s almost Stalinistic.

But Coutts is a fussy bank: me and (most of) you just can’t walk in there and open an account. Oh no sir. You have to have enough money and be of the right social class. Welcome to Britain — the home of democracy.

When you’ve emptied your plastic bags of your money then you’re welcomed.

Nigel Farage is a British politician who was, in my view, the man who delivered Brexit. I disagreed with that and almost every other policy he has promulgated since. There is the right wing and then there is Nigel.

One of Coutts’s principles is that it can’t be owned by foreigners (that’s me out) although as I said above it’s owned nowadays by a huge multicultural society — the great British public though NatWest — where us mugs still have a 38 percent holding.

Now Nigel would present as the epitome of Britishness. He wants to stop foreigners, he drinks warm beer, he smokes and he seems wealthy enough. So he should be an ideal Coutts customer.

And he was. Until they chucked him out because he didn’t have enough money. Nobody likes to be fired and he couldn’t do much about it.

Fast forward to a fancy dinner at the beginning of this month, where the Chief Executive of NatWest group, Dame Alison Rose, sat beside Simon Jack, the BBC’s business editor. And they started chatting as you do.

No one knows what was said but the next day the BBC ran a story by Mr Jack that Mr Farage had been kicked out because of his right-wing views. The ‘woke’ movement seemed to have got to the bank.

Naturally all hell broke loose. Then a 40-page dossier on Mr Farage prepared by the bank was released saying, well essentially, he is not ‘one of us’.

Maybe all that the Dame and Mr Jack discussed was tennis at Wimbledon. Whoever did the seating arrangements is probably having serious second thoughts right now.

Back to my first paragraph. Read it again. Read it again and read it again.

As for CEO of Coutts, there is nothing like a Dame.

Have a good week


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