The Royal Bank of Scotland is fast becoming the British Leyland of our age.
It was taken into (81%) public ownership to prevent it from collapse. It makes big losses year in and year out. And, in the minds of a good many members of the public, it seems to symbolise everything that is wrong about the prevailing UK economic model.
It is now a little more than five years since Alistair Darling bailed out RBS. At that time it was making losses of £24bn a year. After the provisions it announced on Monday, it is on course to lose around £8bn in 2013. Much though George Osborne would like to get shot of RBS before the next election, there is not the slightest possibility of him doing so at a price that would get taxpayers their money back.
Instead, it is the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, who could make the most political capital out of RBS.
Why? Because despite failing to lend to business and despite the growing cost of its litany of scandals, the bank still plans to ask its shareholders permission to pay bonuses worth 200% of salary for its traders, the very people Balls says should pay 50% income tax.
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image: © Harry Potts