So now there are just two suitors for Northern Rock. Tax haven abuser Richard Branson and the management are left in the race.
Of these the government can have the service of one if it nationalises this bank: after all, the management won't be going far, or can if they do be replaced by those more suited to the task, and we know they have been identified.
Branson has abused the UK tax system and shown complete disregard for all concepts of transparency and accountability throughout his business career. He is not suitable to own or run a bank. Much less should he be the beneficiary of the potential largesses of the government when loan write offs, inevitably, occur.
There is only one option left for Northern Rock that meets EU requirements and recognises the economic fact of this matter, that Northern Rock is bust. That is nationalisation managed to ensure maximum return to those now bearing the equity rick in the failed bank: the UK taxpayer.
Why is it taking so long for a Labour government to see the benefit of public ownership for the public good when the market has failed?