There is cross-party support for an inquiry into how Reverend Flowers was appointed Chairman of the Co-operative Bank – but few blame politicians for appointing him
Since allegations of former Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers’ drug and prostitution use first emerged last Sunday, the story has taken on a political dimension. The Co-op movement has long been affiliated with the Labour Party, providing funding through donations and loans. So Flowers’ admission that he had ‘no applicable experience’ in the finance industry, yet had overseen donations to Ed Balls’ office, attracted suspicion over Labour’s part in his appointment.
George Osborne is to order an independent inquiry into how Paul Flowers was considered a suitable chairman of the Co-op Bank, and on that the public agree. However numerous suggestions that Labour may be to blame for his appointment have failed, so far, to resonate with voters.
In new YouGov research for the Sunday Times, 67% of the public say George Osborne is right to order an inquiry into how Flowers was appointed Chairman. Majorities of all parties agree, despite the inquiry being led by what is to many an opposition figure. Labour supporters are, however, most likely to say the inquiry is wrong (24%).
Mr Flowers was until 2011 a Labour councillor in Bradford, and met with Ed Miliband on a number of occasions. Only 16% of the public think that politicians within the Co-operative movement are most to blame for Flowers’ appointment, for supporting him, however. 45% say the fault mainly lies with the Co-op board that appointed him, and 19% blame the Financial Standards Authority, for not having tight enough regulations.
Paul Flowers was arrested on Thursday night, in relation to a video showing him handing over £300 for crystal meth and cocaine. The investigation the Chancellor has ordered will examine, in addition to questions regarding his appointment, whether the Co-op Bank’s recent leadership crisis had any financial implications for its customers.