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Bulldog barks but fails to put the bite on Equitable

The British bulldog was barking at the inaugural meeting of the Equitable Members Action Group but the bite was missing.

Indeed, the meeting ofthe self-styled action group, which is hoping to salvage Equitable Life&#39s mutual status, was notable mainly for its lack of action.

Fewer than a dozen men in pinstriped suits spent the evening lounging in the leather-bound seats of a London bar accompanied by one woman, who took notes.

The meeting had been advertised on the web with an agenda of adopting a constitution, electing officers, preparing for a meeting and planning other activities. But almost the entire meeting was taken up with discussing who should play what role in the group.

Positions to be filledincluded press officer, secretary, chairman and members responsible for coming face to face with Equitable.

The acting chairman assumed an unofficial roleof “acting bulldog”, bark-ing at members and generally adding a military presence to the meeting.

Deciding on roles was a lengthy process. “Co-operation and communication” were heralded as the key words of the group but “c&#39mon chaps” and “guffaw” were heard much more often. Emag&#39s constitu-tion was talked of but little was decided in the wayof content.

But there was a lot more at stake than who should play press officer.

Members were torn between anger at the way Equitable Life is handling its recent defeat in the Lords and disappointment because Equitable was at heart a “super, lovely company”.

Not all the members of the group were policyholders with so-called guaranteed annuities and those that were felt equally let down by the company&#39s decision to demutualise because it was felt Equitable was selling out.

Emag felt like a group which knows it is up against the odds and cannot win but thinks that one ought to fight on regardless.

It says it is interested in looking to the future and not to the past and is not looking to criticise Equitable Life but to just to ensure the right decisions are made.

By the time the meeting ended, the majority of roles had been assigned and a proposed date for coming face to face with Equitable Life had been agreed.

But what Emag would actually say to the insurer remained a mystery.

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