Back in February this year, Alistair Darling told the House of Commons that
The new board [of Northern Rock] will operate at arm’s length from the Government with commercial autonomy for their decisions.Then last week, when everyone became outraged that Northern Rock had the highest repossession rates, Gordon Brown defended criticism repeating that,
"important to note that it is at arm's length from government.... It is not a company we are running on an everyday basis"Then, over the weekend, we have Yvette Cooper telling the banks (including Northern Rock and the others that they now have a major share in) that they must cut their repossession rate. So much for arm's length huh?
This is how it is going to be now of course. Politicians won't take actual decisions in banks, but they will, for political purposes, try to shape the actions of banks where commercial reasons are detrimental to votes. They just won't be able to help themselves.