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Will banks start discriminating against shooting next?

As recent headlines have shown, banks are engaging in their own social engineering. Alasdair Mitchell considers the implications for shooting


A number of shoots are concerned about the ability of banks to discriminate against businesses

I have never worried about being ‘debanked’, but maybe I should be. Perhaps I will have my bank account and cards suspended after writing this column. There’s a lot of it going on.

Bankers are not exactly popular, but then nor are shooters. In these intolerant times, woe betide anybody who doesn’t fall in with the correct opinions on certain subjects. As fieldsports aren’t classed as a religion, anybody is free to discriminate against us. Some banks most certainly do — just ask any gunshop owner. For several years, there has been a growing trend for banks to refuse or cancel banking facilities for businesses associated with firearms. Some bankers don’t bother to make a distinction between a respectable family business serving the rural community and organisations like the Wagner group. It was raised with the BASC council last year.

Political views

The whole matter of so-called debanking hit the national headlines recently when Nigel Farage complained that his bank had chucked him out because of his political views. He said he has tried nine other banks, to no avail. I don’t suppose we shall ever get to the bottom of the precise reasons for his banking plight. Mr Farage is loathed by many journalists and huge swathes of the metropolitan elite and this taints the reporting. But at least he hoisted the issue into the spotlight.

Some people with a public profile have fallen foul of vetting system instituted by the banking system a few years ago, which is based on the concept of a politically exposed person (PEP). These PEPs are held to be particularly susceptible to forms of pressure that might be used by baddies to facilitate money laundering or other crimes. The banks are supposed to keep things in proportion, but many find it easier to institute blanket bans. In some cases, the children and grandchildren of innocent PEPs have been refused banking facilities. The banks don’t even have to give a proper explanation of such decisions.

There is a deep suspicion that this sort of exclusion process is increasingly being used to weed out customers who dare to voice opinions on topical issues that differ to the stance taken by virtue-signalling banks. An Anglican vicar says he was excluded by the Yorkshire Building Society after he used a feedback request to express concern about the Society’s focus on gender politics.

Banks design their own environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, and this is where shooters may come unstuck. Anything to do with guns may be verboten under an ESG. This tends to hit business accounts. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is already examining whether banks have been overzealous in deploying PEP and ESG policies to cancel banking facilities. Now the Government is sufficiently concerned that it has asked the banking minister to ensure that the FCA speeds up its report.

On the one hand, commercial banks are private sector businesses. Normally, such businesses can choose who they wish to do business with. On the other hand, they are not ordinary private business. Firstly, banking facilities are essential to modern life. Secondly, banks are not left to face the full risks of red-blooded market forces but get bailed out by the Government if they get into trouble. And the Government uses money that been extracted from taxpayers — including the very people banks have chosen to exclude. How on earth can that be acceptable?

The Government is right to stop the rot. If the banks are allowed to continue discriminating against anyone at will, who will they pick on next? Will banks start trawling their client lists for accounts held by game shooting syndicates, clay clubs and sporting estates? If so, then the next step would be to single out individuals who use bank transfers to pay for cartridges.