Along with its annual results yesterday, Barclays revealed its new strategic plan to haul the bank from the pits of public disdain. As part of its new direction, Barclays – the UK’s leading commodities speculator - announced it is pulling out of food speculation. After three years of public campaigning and calling on the bank to stop betting on hunger, this is very exciting news!
Barclays had a massive PR job on its hands to mend its toxic reputation, earned from the Libor rate scam, the PPI mis-selling scandal and the interest-rate swaps rip-off of small businesses. It could have left its agricultural commodities division untouched. But it couldn't afford to ignore commodities.
Why? Well with three years of protests outside its local branches, protests outside and inside its AGM, media stories exposing Barclays’ leading role in food speculation and a hit viral spoof video of Barclays making money from global hunger, I think Antony Jenkins got the message that this was something he couldn't brush under the reputational carpet.
Typical of campaigners, we have to force ourselves to pause and just enjoy the moment rather than picking over what still needs to be done. After all, stopping a banking behemoth in its tracks was not something we had ever hoped to do.
Tomorrow we will continue to fight to get industry-wide regulation, so that not just one bank but all the banks can be prevented from driving up food prices - and to prevent any discreet u-turns by Barclays once the spotlight fades. But for now I just wanted to say 'well done' to everyone who has campaigned on this – from our amazing local groups turning up outside their local branch to every person who has watched and shared our spoof video. Together we kicked up enough fuss to show Barclays that profiting from hunger is unacceptable.