ALTHOUGH I MAINTAIN a paid online subscription to The Times (London), I find that the unending preoccupation with domestic politics, with less than a year to go before the General Election, prevents me from keeping abreast with the charming intricacies of British public life. I was left unmoved by the hysteria over a popular TV presenter who turned out to be a sex fiend; the Harry-Meghan duo’s strange fight with the Royal Establishment left me cold; and Rishi Sunak’s noble attempt to prevent Britain from further self-destruction by voting in a Labour government is too depressing to spend time thinking over.
I guess it is the weirdest concerns of Britons—apart from the fact that their book reviews remain an abiding delight—that make the subscription worthwhile. I am referring to the fuss over Coutts de-banking (a variation of the cancel disease that has afflicted Western civilisation) the English nationalist stalwart Nigel Farage.
Let me say at the outset that I have found Farage fascinating. Unlike my English ‘liberal’ friends—most of whom opposed Brexit in the referendum—who froth in the mouth at the mere mention of the man who made Brexit a viable proposition, I think of Farage as a legitimate voice. There are legitimate concerns over Britain losing its soul and character thanks to an overdose of immigration and multiculturalism, and it is better someone jolly like Farage articulates them. He is, in my book, much more acceptable than some inarticulate, uneducated yob with an overdose of tattoo on their arms. In any case, Farage’s views are shared by large numbers of Britons, though the modern variant of the Spanish Inquisition prevents them from admitting their gut feelings.
So, Farage banks with Coutts which, in case you didn’t know, is the banker to the Queen. (I still can’t, out of sheer habit, get myself to say King). This suggests good taste. If I could afford the requisite minimum balance, I would have preferred the establishment opposite the main entrance to Charing Cross Station on the Strand, rather than some drab high-street bank adjoining the local pub frequented by citizens who keep changing mobile phones every week.
I first got to know about Coutts in the late-seventies thanks to a friend who decided that he needed a distinctive chequebook—none of the NatWest or Barclays rubbish. In those pre-internet and mobile banking days, we carried our cheque book in our jacket pocket. The truly stylish also carried a fountain pen. We would make a purchase and then write out a cheque, backed by a cheque card that guaranteed it for £50, a princely sum those days.
Anyway, a few of us were shopping for books at Collets, a left-wing bookshop on Charing Cross Road. My friend—whose name I won’t divulge since he happens to be a prominent politician in South Africa—wrote out his Coutts cheque and presented to the girl on the till. She looked at him and casually asked for his cheque card. My friend, who was quite a poseur, replied insouciantly: “My dear, I bank with Coutts.” The shop girl wasn’t taking any nonsense. Blessed with the full weight of the class struggle, she snapped back fiercely: “I don’t f***g care who you bank with, I need your cheque card.” And that was that.
I don’t know if Farage tried to look extra grand when he presented a Coutts card to his local restaurant, but I find it quite offensive that he should be denied his moment of glory because the thought police find his political attitudes offensive. I thought bankers cared about bank balances and creditworthiness of individual customers. Now I am amused to find that they compile dossiers on how customers vote and what they write on their Twitter account. A club can legitimately restrict membership to the like-minded and those with similar social profiles—although even that is being challenged by the diversity mafia. But a bank?
I mean where will this social engineering stop? The universities in the West have been stuffed with lecturers and professors whose semi-literate and incomprehensible rantings are tolerated for the sake of diversity. My heart goes out to the
talented, educationally accomplished,
white guy with an Oxbridge and public-school background who gets routinely rejected for an applicant whose attributes are limited to his/ her deviant sexuality and expedient skin colour.
I understand that there is a feeling slowly building up in the US against the excesses of woke. It is said that a desi politician is among those in the forefront of the resistance. This is good news.