About the campaign

Last updated 20 April 2024

The campaign was started by and is led by Mikael Armstrong, and has been supported by Jay Smith since day 2. You will find below a potted history / timeline of events.

21 March 2024 Mikael starts the petition on change.org – and posts about it on the MSE forum. A few people sign the petition.

Nationwide and Virgin Money make the necessary disclosures regarding the terms of the proposed takeover.

22 March 2024 Jay finds Mikael’s petition via Google and signs it (signatory #4!). He also finds Mikael’s post on MSE forum.

24 March 2024 Jay notices that within 2 days of posting, Mikael’s thread on the MSE forum is taken down. Jay manages to find Mikael’s number online and get in touch to let him know. Mikael and Jay start conversing over What’s App. Jay gets in touch with journalists, as it seems that someone behind the scenes is trying to quash member dissent. Feedback from journalists is that Nationwide has strong representation from a well known PR agency. A new thread is started on the MSE forum.

25 March 2024 Jay purchases a domain name for the campaign (this website) and knocks up a VERY simply website using a text editor. Jay creates a google account for the campaign with the address NWVMvote@gmail.com At this stage the petition has 47 votes. Jay starts promoting the petition and campaign on Facebook.

26 March 2024 Mikael send the first update to supporters via change.org – but unfortunately only people who are subscribe and have validated their email address receive updates over email.

Simon English at The Standard publishes Nationwide’s takeover of Virgin Money could be a disaster for the building society. The campaign makes contact with The Standard to make them aware of the campaign and the takedown of Mikael’s original MSE forum post.

27 March 2024 The day starts with the petition at 88 signatures. Mikael starts making contact with other journalists that appear interested in the story of the proposed takeover.

29 March 2024 MSE forum staff remove Mikael’s posting privileges, due to supposed violations of the forum rules. They force him to reset his account and change the user name he’s had for 10+ years.

1 April 2024 Mikael discovers that the change.org petition can no longer be found on Google using simple search terms, whereas the day before it was the #1 result. The campaign suspects someone has sent a request to Google for the petition to be delisted so it cannot be found easily.

2 April 2024 Jay discovers that his account on Twitter / X has been suspended. More intrigue ensues.

3 April 2024 Petition now has 321 signatures. Mikael and Jay begin to plan the request for a Special General Meeting. Looking at the society’s rules, the headlines are there, but the practicalities aren’t clear. 500 qualifying two year members need to make a request in writing, accompanied by a £50 deposit for each member, a proposed resolution and a supporting statement.

A campaign supporter with a similar set of issues send a list of 7 questions to the Society Secretary (see notes accompanying the 11 April 2024 press release), seeking clarification – and shares this with the campaign. This supporter is still yet to get an answer to each of these questions.

Alex Brummer at the Daily Mail publishes Unwise dash by Nationwide: Building Society risks alienating its members over Virgin deal

4 April 2024 The campaign discovers that there is another petition on change.org with similar aims. It’s starting to get more traffic because it is yet to be de-listed from Google.

Another letter from Nationwide chairman, Kevin Parry, arrives in the post (page 1, page 2).

6 April 2024 The petition is approaching the symbolic 500 signatory mark. Mikael puts out another update marking the milestone on Change.org

7 April 2024 Patrick Tooher writing for This is Money publishes Petition calling on Nationwide to give members a say in its takeover of Virgin Money on track to hit target.

The petition passes the 500 signatory mark. The other petition is getting more signatories too as it’s the one that is easily found on Google. Jay gets in touch with the owner, Villyat, and he agrees to direct traffic to the campaign’s petition given the larger numbers. He recommends starting a Facebook group and helps get it set up (thanks Villyat!).

Ruth Sutherland writes for This is Money: Nationwide’s inability to honour mutual democracy over Virgin deal is a contradiction. Jay writes to the editor requesting corrections and an apology.

8 April 2024 There are now nearly 1,000 signatories across the two petitions on Change.org (813 + 159). Mikael tracks down a number for Jason Wright, the Society Secretary, and calls him. He then follows up by email with specific questions relating to the practicalities of requesting a Special General Meeting, similar to those sent by another supporter on 3 April. Mikael is still yet to receive answers to these questions, as is the other supporter.

Another article is published by This is Money: Nationwide under pressure to give members a say on £2.9bn takeover of Virgin Money after petition hits its target

Jay writes to regulators regarding his concerns relating to the proposed acquisition.

9 April 2024 Jason Wright, the Society Secretary for Nationwide views Mikael’s profile on LinkedIn.

Mikael comes across this post on LinkedIn by James Daley, MD of Fairer Finance (14 March 2024): Why is Nationwide buying Virgin Money?

Jay investigates legal options. Solicitors and barristers are VERY expensive.

Mikael and Jay start preparing for handing in the petition to Nationwide HQ and the necessary documentation to request a Special General Meeting under the society’s rules, as the petition is closing in on 1,000 signatories.

Jay identifies that building societies are required by the Prudential Regulatory Authority to pre-notify any relevant business diversification. It’s possible therefore that Nationwide’s board was expected to pre-notify the PRA and provide a copy of the board paper setting out the risks and benefits of the proposed diversification.

Mikael and Jay decide to buy a few shares each in Virgin Money to acquire shareholder rights (i.e.information, voting and representation) on the other side of the proposed deal.

10 April 2024 Preparations are made for the delivery of the press release, with the petition and a request for a Special General Meeting in person by Mikael the next day. Jay books for an independent photographer to attend so the campaign has it’s own images to distribute to news outlets. Contact is made with the Swindon Advertiser given the location of Nationwide’s HQ and central office staff. The Daily Mail also agrees to send a photographer.

11 April 2024 Mikael makes a placard (including QR code that links to the campaign website), gets printing, drives over and hand delivers the petition and the request for a Special General Meeting at Nationwide HQ in Swindon. Photographs are taken and interviews are held. The campaign website is updated to include the press release and supporting notes e.g. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Anna Wise at PA Media writes up the story same day, securing wide distribution across a range of titles, e.g.


National – Petition for Nationwide members to vote on Virgin Money deal gathers steam

International – Petition for Nationwide members to vote on Virgin Money deal gathers steam

Ben Gardner writes up his interview with Mikael for the Swindon Advertiser: Nationwide takeover of Virgin Money sparks member backlash

Mikael’s children open their tablet later that day and spot daddy on the front page, looking a bit cold!

12 April 2024 The petition hits 1,000 signatories. Mikael follows up with an email to Nationwide detailing the submission the day before and requesting acknowledgement. Mikael receives an email back from Jason Wright acknowledging receipt and that he “will respond once I have considered your questions fully”.

More press comes out throughout the day, e.g.

Jay separately emails 4 of Nationwide’s Independent Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) with his concerns regarding the takeover and the society not calling a member vote as expected under Section 92A of the Building Societies Act (1986). He is yet to receive a reply.

13 April 2024 With the petition and SGM request delivered to Nationwide, the campaign changes gear into requesting direct action from supporters while the Nationwide deliberates, and prepares templates for supporters to use / adapt to streamline this activity.

Existing and new supporters are now asked to consider

In addition to the existing requests made of new supporters

16 April 2024 Over 1,500 signatories. Mikael submits an update to change.org asking supporters to take direct action while Nationwide continues to deliberate on the campaign’s request for a SGM.

17 April 2024 BBC radio interview booked with Mikael for Friday 19th April. The BBC approaches Nationwide for comment.

18 April 2024 Jason Wright writes to Mikael, one week after the petition and request for the SGM was submitted, to say that the request for a SGM is “not valid”, with no answers to the specific questions posed to Jason on 3rd April or 8th April. Mikael replies later that night, asking for clarification and reiterating the requests for a SGM and for the board’s opinion and/or legal advice as to why a member vote cannot be held as per the Building Societies Act 1986 to be shared so that it can be understood and scrutinised by members. Mikael explains that in the interests of transparency (and given 1,000s of signatories to the petition) that he will share the correspondence.

19 April 2024 Mikael is interviewed live on air as part of the Lunchtime Live programme on BBC Scotland. It’s a short 5 minute interview, 55 minutes into the programme.

20 April 2024 Petition has over 3,000 signatories. Press release issued by Mikael disclosing the correspondence between the campaign and Nationwide.

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