Socialist Worker

Building society demutualisation: Banking on success?

Issue No. 2121

The state takeover of Bradford & Bingley brings the curtain down on one of the key chapters of Margaret Thatcher’s supposed “revolution” of the 1980s.

Building societies were set up as mutually owned institutions to help working class and middle class people to buy their own homes.

The Conservatives passed a law allowing them to transform themselves into banks that could raise money on the stock market rather than relying solely on small investors.

Building society members were offered cash or free shares if they agreed to the change in their status.

Bradford & Bingley, Halifax, Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester, Woolwich and six other building societies all joined the rush to turn into banks and float themselves on the stock exchange.

Today every last one of them has sunk beneath the waves – either gobbled up by a larger banking corporation or taken into the protective custody of the state.

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What We Think
Tue 30 Sep 2008, 17:58 BST
Issue No. 2121
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