Come back, Giro

Since nationalisation of the banks seems to be an inevitable consequence of the government's current economic strategy, Vince Cable's suggestion that "we need a serious debate about what it could mean" is an excellent one ("It's time for us to make the rules", 22 January). Among the matters which should be debated is the total amount of the "horrendous losses" which the state (ie the taxpayer) will have to absorb, and whether these losses can be absorbed without Britain becoming subject to an IMF restructuring programme, with all of its implications.

He suggests that there may be better alternatives to bank nationalisation. Perhaps the Post Office Girobank, which Whitehall ran quite successfully for many years, could be resurrected. This bank could provide the means of putting government investment into the system and, in the present circumstances, would attract depositors from failing banks, thus providing new investment funds independent of state subsidy. The statement that "Whitehall long ago lost the capacity for competent state capitalism" seems a strange objection in view of the fact that competent bankers have made such an excellent job of destroying the banking system and Britain's economy. It is difficult to imagine that Whitehall could do worse.

Jean Johnson

Fleetwood, Lancashire

Unlike Vince Cable, I am not an economist. But I have been a customer of the Co-operative Bank for many years, so I was surprised not to see it mentioned in his salutary and balanced piece on The End of Banking As We Know It.

Jim Trimmer

Kingston upon Thames

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This article first appeared in the 02 February 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Interview: Alistair Darling