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Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Farage and the Debanking Scandal

The Spectator
Letters Editor 
Re: Matthew Paris, ‘The hypocrisy of Nigel Farage’s supporters,’ The Spectator (12 August 2023), <>; Matthew Parris, ‘The Hypocrisy of the Farage Outcry,’ The Spectator, 12 August 2023, page 23.

Matthew Parris compares Coutts’s decision to debank Farage with Cadbury’s 1909 decision to boycott slave-grown cocoa from São Tomé, then a Portuguese colony. The comparison is not an apt one. 

First, a private company actively chooses its suppliers. As for customers—most companies invite all comers. Second, banking comes with confidentiality—by custom and by regulation. So a bank is not likely to accrue bad will for holding the “wrong” customers. Third, Cadbury acted in public to enjoy good will for associating with the “right” cause. Coutts, by contrast, sought to leak confidential information privately to the BBC. It might even be said that Coutts used confidential information—which it held in a fiduciary capacity—in an attempt to injure its own former client. Fourth, a domestic bank owes its nation’s citizens and non-citizen residents a bit more fair-play and due process than it owes foreigners overseas—especially where those citizens and residents are local taxpayers who have bailed out that bank and, as a result, the government holds substantial equity in the enterprise on behalf of the taxpaying public. And, fifth, Cadbury’s 1909 public boycott of slave-grown tobacco from abroad was consistent with and supported long-standing national policy, established by Parliament, against slavery. Coutts, by contrast, appears to have debanked Farage as part of its opposition to national policy that was popularly resolved in the 2016 referendum. Moreover, Coutts denied what it had done right up until those denials became untenable. Again: Parris’s comparison is not apt.

Matthew Paris writes: 

Peter Oborne, while disapproving of the exclusion of Farage, makes the point that a number of prominent Muslim activists and organisations have been denied bank accounts and the media has never taken any interest at all in their ‘right to free speech’. ‘Nobody cares,’ he writes. 
   Perhaps such decisions were justified—I don’t know—but I can feel readers switching off as I write about excluded Muslims, muttering: ‘That’s different.’ It isn’t: not if you want to maintain a right to an account with a particular bank as a general principle. What chance Farage will take up these Muslims’ cause? 

What Parris “feel[s]” is hardly evidence of prejudice and bigotry, except his own, and his feelings are directed against millions of his fellow countrymen. And if Parris genuinely wants to know if Farage and his supporters will take up the wider debanking cause on behalf of minorities, then the way to find out is to ask Farage and his supporters, and not to hint—absent any concrete evidence—that they will refuse to act even-handedly.


Seth Barrett Tillman, Farage and the Debanking Scandal,’ New Reform Club (Sept. 6, 2023, 8:21 AM), <>;