Butnothingwillhavechanged。

ThefactthatthedebtwillbebackedbytheTreasurymeansthatwewillbetakingpreciselythesameamountofriskaswearenow:ifthehousingmarketcrashesandcashflowsfromNorthernRock’sremainingbusinessisnotsufficienttoredeemthebondsitwillbethetaxpayernotthetoothfairywhomakesupthedifference。

Let’snotforgetthatthereasonwearewhereweareisbecausenooneintheprivatesectorwasprepared,despitethebesteffortsofGoldmanSachs,tostumpupthecashtodoadeal。

Soiftheywon’ttaketherisk,whyshouldwe?

Iknowitisn’tremotelypoliticallyacceptablebutIstillthinkthatthebankshouldbenationalisedandrundown–itwouldbebestifwecouldallhopinatimemachineandstartthisprocesslastautumn,butfailingthatnowisfinetoo。

Theonlypeoplewhodon’tthinkthisareGordonBrown(whodoesn’twantthedebtonhisbalancesheetorthesluronhisshakyreputation)andthemanyshareholderswhohavespentthelastfewmonthsblitheringonabouttheirrights。

Shareholdersdohaverights。

Ofcoursetheydo。

Andnumberoneontheirlistofrightsistherighttotherighttosellwhenitisclearthebusinesstheyhaveinvestedinisahopelessone。

Iwishtheyhadallexerciseditfourmonthsago。

FirstpublishedinTheEveningStandard,22/1/08

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