October 28, 2005

Stuck on Stupid

The latest institutions to join the grotesque competition to turn self-abasement into an art form are two of Britain’s largest banks – the Halifax and the NatWest, with neither of which I have an account, so am spared the trouble of closing it – which have just banned images of piggy banks on their posters and collateral materials so as not to offend you-know-who.

Always quick to consolidate a perceived victory, a “community leader” called Salim Mulla, secretary of the self-styled Lancashire Council of Mosques, endorsed this lunacy saying “This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers.”


Quite apart from the question of whether the host society should twist itself into a pretzel to accommodate its 2.5% population of Muslim immigrant prejudices when the indigenous Brits/Europeans still comprise 95% of the population, the vapid thought processes of both parties, the banks and Salim Mulla, don’t take into account the fact that Muslims aren’t really customers of traditional banks. They may hold their current accounts in local branches of big banks. But they get their house and car loans from Islamic banking institutions.

The banks may have demonstrated their exquisite religious sensibility by ditching piggy banks, but, as charging interest is yet one more offence against Islam, the Muslims would ban the entire British banking system. Du-uh.

Posted by Verity at October 28, 2005 10:16 AM

During the cold war, the term "Finlandization" was used to describe the process of a nation restraining its policies and actions to avoid offending the Soviet Union. We now have its equivalent in this sort of auto-dhimmitudization.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at October 28, 2005 10:34 AM

The story about the banks is not entirely accurate. They have not used piggy banks for some time, having a completely new idea for advertising - some idiot with lots of bling telling the world that they should bank with HSBC. Unfortunately, the media got it all somewhat wrong. So what else is new? You can always get some rent-a-quote Muslim "leader" or "representative" to say anything. Piggy banks are still around in some ads. There is quite a lot that is wrong happening but it is important to get things right.

Posted by: Helen at October 28, 2005 10:54 AM

Helen, the information came from Dhimmiwatch, The Age (a well-established Australian daily), Newsmax, The Brussels Journal (which I'm sure is your favourite) and Little Green Footballs. I am trying to get a phone number for the corporate offices of NatWest and/or Halifax and when I find it, I'll post the results of the call I make. I will also call HSBC.

As banking hours are over and it's the week-end, it will be Monday before I am able to do this.

I do agree with you, Helen, that it is important to get things right. Can you give me your source for discounting this story, please? Also, when you note that "the story is not entirely accurate" could you let me know which parts are wrong?

Posted by: Verity at October 28, 2005 11:25 AM

See following story passed on from one of the employees:

"From the HBOS (Halifax/Bank of Scotland) Intranet...

News: Piggybank press coverage

Colleagues may have seen coverage in today's Daily Star and Daily Express newspapers claiming that we have withdrawn piggybanks from Halifax branches.

As colleagues in branches know, we have not used piggybanks for a number of years. Our branch promotional material is organised around our advertising, which for the last five years has focussed on highlighting our colleagues. (i.e that stupid Howard bloke singing "who gives you extra"? Ed.)

The newspapers involved were briefed about our position by the press office but chose to ignore our advice."

Plus I have seen the new ads for some months (it feels like years).

Posted by: Helen at October 28, 2005 11:59 AM

I think this might be an urban legend.

The NatWest site still has its piggy-bank logo, e.g. here. I did not find anything on Google news which seemed to reliable, some stuff from tabloids. The two banks seem not to have had any press-releases about it.

Maybe they are doing this quietly, but if so it is very quiet indeed.

Posted by: Lex at October 28, 2005 11:59 AM

Lex and Helen - I got the feeling that it is a local story, but I didn't see any particular town mentioned. It seems strange that this got so much coverage and not a single correction issued by the banks ... I think there must be a nubbin of truth in the story, although this is only conjecture just now. There's something not quite right about that denial that Helen posted above. It is rather equivocal: "The newspapers involved were briefed about our position by the press office but chose to ignore our advice."

What "advice"? Not "denial"? What "position"?

Most papers in which the original story was carried also tied it in to the Benefits Office in Dudley which has interdicted all representations of pigs. So it may be branches in Dudley. It may be something informal that some twit branch manager did.

I will call the banks in question on Monday as we have a mystery here.

Posted by: Verity at October 28, 2005 12:31 PM

Sorry, Verity. The Dudley story was mostly accurate though a little exaggerated. The bank story is wrong. That's the way it is with the media. The piggy banks are around with some banks and the new HSBC campaign has been boring and annoying us all for months and months.

Posted by: Helen at October 28, 2005 12:47 PM

Helen - I still smell a rat. If the banks in question had issued an unequivocal denial, the papers would have carried it. But they didn't. They gave the press "advice", which the press has felt it could safely ignore.

I have a feeling - just a feeling - that they did do something alone these lines, quietly, and when caught out, "advised" the papers not to make a fuss. Interesting.

Posted by: Verity at October 28, 2005 01:01 PM

So who was this Salim Mulla person quoted in the press, and what was he reacting to? Or was his quote a fabrication?

There is a Lancashire Council of Mosques (www.lancashiremosques.com) and there does seem to be a Salim Mulla, Treasurer, who has been quoted on other issues.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at October 28, 2005 02:15 PM

Precisely, Jim.

And one of Britain's four Muslim MPs, Birmingham's Khalid Mahmoud,is also real enough and said he thought the decision was silly.

Posted by: Verity at October 28, 2005 02:36 PM

If the pig wore a burqa, would that be okay?

Posted by: Ibn Tahhara at October 29, 2005 06:07 PM

I have spent half an hour trying to find a phone number for NatWest or a home page, all of which appear to be carefully concealed. The only phone numbers I could find for their HQ are 0845 numbers, which only work, I believe, for calls within Britain. I couldn't find a home page with a Contact Us link. There were also 0800 numbers, but again, I think that is just a domestic 800 number. Of course, this obscurity is intentional and is in the nature of banks.

Anyway, the fact that there has been no firm denial has been mentioned on other blogs. Rottweiler Puppy says the ban was limited to branches in Lancashire. It seems awfully suspicious that this story was carried by Agence France Presse, Die Welt, the Daily Express, The Age and many other major publications worldwide, yet there has been no unequivocal denial, which all reputable press would have run (on pain of libel action, if nothing else).

If anyone in Britain can call one of the 800 numbers and find out what their switchboard number is, I will call them.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 07:14 AM
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