Financial Ombudsman Service and the Protection of Capitalism

aCapitalist-Manifesto01

(This article originally appeared in the New Worker Newspaper of the New Communist Party of Britain (NCP), dated the 4.4.14, No: 1769 – Page 7)

The pivotal fallacy of the bourgeois capitalist state is that the institution of the ‘law’ is fair, equal, and accessible to all. This is an obvious and blatant untruth. The institution of law is a historical expression of class domination, whereby the working masses are excluded from the supposed ‘equality’ the law offers by the sheer expense of accessing its guidance and support. Furthermore, the institute of law is represented in society by solicitors, lawyers, and barristers, etc, that form a distinct middle class entity whose primary purpose is to maintain the class privilege that they enjoy at the expense of the oppressed working class. The working class are excluded from the ‘equality’ that bourgeois law offers by the deliberate hurdles of education, and finance. If the bourgeois law is not understood, then the working masses do not know that in theory they may have recourse to the law; but even if this is known, the next barrier is the cost of legal assistance. The legal system is excessively priced so that only the wealthiest may gain effective access to its guidance. It is a middle class legal system designed to only serve the middle class that has created it. The Socialist principles embedded in the 1948 Welfare State sought to rectify this imbalance to a certain extent through the introduction of the principle of Legal Aid. Under the current extreme rightwing governmental alliance of the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties, this access to legal services has been cut to such a debilitating level that it has ceased to exist as a viable method of acquiring legal advice, but even when the principle of Legal Aid was functioning, it was apparent that a two-tier legal service was in operation. The middle class solicitors and lawyers, whilst happy to take the government subsidy, were not willing to offer a true ‘equality’ of access to the legal system, to the working class that relied upon Legal Aid. Instead, a form of institutional discrimination was allowed to run rampant throughout the legal system. People reliant upon Legal Aid were given the minimum of assistance, whilst those paying from personal wealth, received the fullest assistance to the letter of the law. In legal cases involving Legal Aid against private funding – the bias in the legal system toward those paying from private funds has been continuous and obvious. The ‘equality’ that the principle of Legal Aid offered was only granted in practice in a begrudging manner by the legal representatives of the bourgeois state. The very same representatives (in the form of magistrates and judges) who let off middle class assailants (and their working class allies such as police officers and military personnel, for instance), for crimes involving murder, assault, rape, fraud, animal cruelty, and theft, etc.

However, every so often, when a capitalist excess affects a sizable proportion of the middle class adversely, the middle class system is forced to act to protect its own interests. If the inequalities the bourgeois system projects through society fall primarily upon the working masses, this is considered ‘correct’ and ‘normal’, but if those inequalities permeate into the very middle class they are supposed to privilege, then legal action is initiated. The bourgeois legal system passes (or repeals) laws; an action that is designed to ensure its continuous and privileged status within society. As bourgeois law is predicated upon the pretence of ‘equal access to all’, it must coach its terms within a ‘universalist’ context which presents the false impression that the law in question is of equal relevance to the working masses, as it is obviously the middle class that has created it. Thus the fallacy of a universal law is created. Within the UK banking system in recent years, it has been legally decided that too many middle class people have been unduly and adversely affected by the unscrupulous and dishonest capitalist money-lenders through the ‘mis-selling’ of ‘Payment Protection Insurance’ (PPI). It was legally found that the greedy UK banking system had unlawfully sold PPI to unsuspecting customers, and was advised to ‘repay’ the amounts. Automatically the exploitative capitalist system sprang to its own defence. The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) was given the lucrative task of processing customer’s complaints regarding banks that refused to repay the mis-sold PPI amounts for various and spurious reasons. The banks can do this because like any other institute that personifies and protects the bourgeois state, (such as the police, military, government departments, and the legal system, etc) the law is not applied to them in the manner to which it is applied to individual members of the working class. A working class individual found guilty of theft or fraud to the extent perpetuated by the UK banking system would be imprisoned for many years, and his life ruined through media attention. The UK banking system, however, pays no legal price for the legally proven fraud it has committed as an institution. Instead it can pick and choose who it re-reimburses. When an individual’s PPI claim is rejected by the bank, the individual can refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The FOS, since the emergence of the PPI matter, has invested millions of pounds in media campaigns on TV and radio, advertising their ‘mediating’ service to the general public. This has led to so much work that the FOS has a back-log that keeps clients on waiting lists that can last for years with no facility of appeal. Once a PPI referral claim is in the FOS system, the client is powerless to affect the process in any way until the FOS decides to act upon the complaint. However, what many do not realise is that every time a PPI complaint is referred to the FOS, the FOS automatically receives a £800 fee from the bank concerned. The greedy banks would rather pay the FOS £800 than re-imburse the individual client concerned, but even when the FOS is investigating individual complaints, their procedure is actually seeking to absolve the bank from any guilt through various legal sophistries. Obvious illegal behaviour or acts of blatant discrimination are explained away through ‘lack of evidence’, or as ‘matters outside the remit of the FOS’, etc. In reality, the bourgeois FOS is acting in consort with the banking system. The purpose of this cooperation is to limit the extent to which the UK (and international) financial sector is inconvenienced (or damaged) by the legislation finding the banks guilty of fraud.

The FOS, whilst insisting upon the fiction that it is a mediator of justice, is in reality a thoroughly corrupt institution. This is not surprising, as the FOS is merely an extension of the greedy banking system. Like the corrupt institution of the national lottery that misuses working class money as an excuse to cut welfare by offering a false fairy-tale like-hope of a better tomorrow, the FOS is performing exactly the same function in contemporary UK society. The FOS, far from offering justice within a capitalist society, is in reality supporting the very system it pretends to be regulating. The FOS ‘regulates’ the financial sector by removing any barriers to its outright exploitation of the working class. The middle class, with its appropriate education and wealth, possesses access to knowledge of legal procedures that help it navigate the banking system and the FOS. Like a jack-pot win from the national lottery, a payout by the FOS is purely coincidental and designed always to favour the middle class. Make no mistake about this matter – the FOS ruthlessly represents the interests of the international bourgeoisie and their greedy banking system. The only social institution that the FOS effectively regulates is that of preventing the working class securing justice through its remit.

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