Is a British social credit system emerging?

Marc Glendening

July 7, 2023

Once news broke last week about Nigel Farage’s account being cancelled by Coutts, we may very well be witnessing the emergence of a Chinese-style ‘social credit’ system, albeit with less honestly stated British characteristics. 

Farage says he can’t get another bank to accept his money. Coutts claims he is not sufficiently wealthy to have one of their exclusive accounts. Instead, he has been offered, by way of compensation, a more downmarket NatWest account instead. Farage denies this. If indeed his account is the correct one, how will he now function if he is considered to be a non-person across the whole of this state-protected and subsidised financial oligopoly?

All the other persons who have come to light as having suffered the same fate have one or more of the following same qualities. First, they publicly supported Brexit, second have some connection to centre-right politics, and third, voiced criticism of transgender ideology. There have been no reports of the likes of Paul Mason or Afua Hirsh, also having their accounts terminated. It’s only those deemed to be politically transgressive by the standards of the contemporary cultural-control left (CCL) that appear to get treated this way.

Unlike the Chinese social credit system that has been in development for thirty years or so, in Britain, it is coming together in an undeclared and characteristically haphazard way. However, as with its CCP counterpart, the aim is to induce ideological conformity on the issues the latter-day left, together with their ‘fellow travellers’ in big business and elsewhere, consider to be sacred.

Putting to one side, for a moment, the question as to whether ostensibly private institutions – including banks and all accredited universities other than Buckingham – should be free to determine whose custom they want and do not want, this issue signifies a very disturbing development within our culture. Namely, the demise of the self-denying ordinance necessary for the survival of liberal democracy.

Concerning involvement with the institutions of civil society, it was generally considered bad form to impose a requirement to adhere to any particular viewpoint as a condition of involvement or membership. Conversely, outside of these non-state-related and voluntary processes, it was understood that there was no obligation to desist from expressing opinion or engaging in political activity.

By contrast, what we are now seeing is the political saturation of all forms of human interaction. It has decidedly totalitarian implications. For example, the police and other state bodies are unconstrained from spending taxpayers’ money to actively promote the LGBT+ campaign. All police forces in the UK have handed over our cash to Stonewall. They have also awarded themselves, with absolutely no legal basis, the right to place individuals on ‘non-crime hate incident’ databases who have expressed quite lawful perspectives. Many transgender-sceptical persons have found themselves on such registers which can be accessed by those making DBS checks. What we now have is the emergence of a police force which is intervening on an ideologically, self-selecting basis.   

In the run-up to Pride on July 2, the ‘Progress Pride’ flag – which now carries reference to Black Lives Matter, transgenderism and ‘inter-sex’ – was flown from and displayed in public buildings the length and breadth of the UK. Both state and independent schools similarly played homage. The above-mentioned Coutts had a display supporting the great day covering most of the whole front of its building on the Strand, accompanied by the words, ‘Championing the Power of Pride’. Why on earth should a bank be promoting a totally unrelated event and campaign?

The adoption of the CCL’s identity politics agenda means that entire categories of the ‘privileged’ population are judged to be components of an oppressor class. Such people are not perceived to be individuals who should enjoy equal rights politically to everyone else, but rather as avatars for antagonistic forces. They are seen as enemies rather than opponents.

The implication of this type of primitive mindset, now shared by the contemporary left, is that for there to be cultural equality of outcome between the theoretically constructed groups, those in the ‘enemy’ classes must be politically, and culturally, disadvantaged. This means treating them unequally regarding employment opportunities, the application of law and what they are allowed to articulate.  

The emergence of discriminatory interventions by banks, big tech and others in the private sphere, as well as by the state, is an indication of our society’s transition towards a highly authoritarian model of politics. With the transition to a cash-free economy, the capacity of the government to silence those who take on those political values deemed to be beyond legitimate debate will be relatively easy to affect. We are heading for a silent revolution. 


Written by Marc Glendening

Marc Glendening is Head of Cultural Affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs

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