So, the Royal Bank of Scotland will leave us if we vote ‘Yes’?
The truth is that for all Fred Goodwin’s Folly out at Edinburgh Airport, the policies and decisions of RBS have been driven by the City of London for decades, since someone decided it should become a global player . . . and we all know what happened after that.
So Bank of Scotland will follow suit?
Thanks to a panic-driven reaction by the leader of Better Together, who has been strangely silent for the last few days, Bank of Scotland has been part of the Lloyds group since the beginning of the crisis which he and his predecessor did much to create.
Let me tell you how honest and ethical the BoS has become under Lloyds’ direction. A few weeks ago the owners of a Scottish business turned up for work one morning to find men on their doorstep. The decades-old family owned company had been operating for years with a credit facility from Bank of Scotland. It was rationalising and a programme of asset realisation was under way.
Who were the men on the doorstep? They were sheriff officers. Without the knowledge of its clients, the Lloyds-run Bank of Scotland had sold the debt to venture capitalists. They had decided, as creditor, to put the company into administration, again without consultation. The former owners were history, and the venture capitalists stood to make a nice killing.
A reborn independent Scotland will want no part of such banking practices. Indeed I hope it will make them illegal. So fair enough, RBS, BoS, piss off to London. The functions which you have in Scotland will remain of necessity, for there will be no speedy way to relocate them. Your branch networks will remain, although they may have to operate under a new and more rigorous regulatory system.
For an issue that was always meant to be decided by the people of Scotland, we are sure seeing a hell of a lot of interference from outside. This is being co-ordinated in the main by the London media, although it will be interesting to see how their Scottish editions declare, should the polls on which they lean so heavily show ‘Yes’ in the lead next Wednesday.
One part of their strategy is clear, their determination to focus attention totally on Alex Salmond, and to demonise him in the process. Apart from being as vicious as we have come to expect from what used to be Fleet Street, it is also a gross distortion of the truth . . . another London editorial norm.
‘Yes’ is my campaign just as much as it belongs to Alex Salmond. I had my first flirtation with the SNP when he has just begun secondary school. He was still there when I was in at the birth of the party’s modern era when a diffident Winnie Ewing visited my newspaper office just before winning the Hamilton by-election.
The ‘Yes’ campaign is the culmination of her efforts, and those of thousands more, stretching back to Dr Robert McIntyre, elected in 1945 by my home town, Motherwell, as the party’s first MP. Today ‘Yes’ has millions of co-owners, in Scotland and beyond. For our opponents to focus their venom on one single man is stupid. It is also dangerous, for all they are doing is hardening attitudes and encouraging more and more independence votes, from those who after a lifetime of being bullied by London, are mad as hell and ain’t going to take it anymore.
A point of fact: at this moment Scotland is part of a currency union within the United Kingdom.
Of those who say we can’t keep the pound, I ask this: how do you take such a union apart against the will of one of its participants?
Fergus, a blog reader, posted this as a comment yesterday. It’s beautiful and worthy of the widest possible audience so here goes.
‘I copied this from a newspaper the other day and it seems to me to be spot on, especially the “self-repudiation and self-harm bit.” We need to go for it. I can’t vote because I don’t live in Scotland but I’m with you (us) all the way.’
“Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.
To deny this to yourself, to remain subject to the whims of a distant and uncaring elite, to succumb to the bleak, deferential negativity of the no campaign, to accept other people’s myths in place of your own story: that would be an astonishing act of self-repudiation and self-harm. Consider yourselves independent and work backwards from there; then ask why you would sacrifice that freedom.”
One downer today; I learned of the death, on Sunday, of a friend, Bob Taylor, a fine, funny and gentle man. I have no idea how he’d have voted next week, but whatever, it would have been okay with me. My deepest sympathy goes to the Taylor and Crawford families on their loss. He’ll be missed.
I am not given to whooping with laughter very often, but last night was one of those times, when I heard that Larry, Curly and Moe, AKA the three Westminster party leaders, were skipping today’s PMQs in favour of a trip to Scotland, clad, no doubt, in new brown trousers. Coming on top of Cameron’s bizarre decision to fly the Saltire over Downing Street, this is another pure gift for ‘Yes”.
Are they coming because they no longer trust their Scottish counterparts to get the job done? Looks like it. Shortly before this bombshell, Sky News showed me on my iPad a clip of that trio, on the stump.
I don’t mean to be cruel here, but if (God forbid) Ruth Davidson was involved in an accident anywhere in Scotland, having left her handbag at home, and was rendered unconscious, it would probably take a good couple of hours before anyone recognised her as the Scots Tory leader. As for Willie Rennie, her LibDem counterpart, his profile is indicative of the fact that his parliamentary party at Holyrood could fit easily round a very small dining table.
For me, the most interesting of the three in terms of body language, not personal profile for she isn’t very well known either, was the Scottish Labour Leader, the very nice Johann Lamont. As she made her pitch for Bitter Together, I couldn’t help feeling that her heart wasn’t quite in it. As thousands of her Scottish party members reject London Labour’s arguments and prepare to turn Scotland into a permanently Tory-free zone, is she beginning to realise that she has pitched her tent in the wrong camp-site?
Among the more bizarre ‘Yes’-linked stories this morning is one which suggests that the FA, the SFA and (sic) Strathclyde police, are worried about the prospect of trouble between supporters at the November Scotland – England friendly at Celtic Park. If history means anything, they need not fash themselves.
My memory goes back to the days when our nations played each other annually . . . and yes, I was at Wembley, although not on the pitch on the day that our over-enthusiastic support took most of it home with them as souvenirs. (There was some excuse for that non-angelic behaviour; the hospitable people of London Transport decided to go on strike that weekend leaving thousands of their city’s guests with no option but to walk to Wembley from central London, on a baking hot May day, naturally refreshing themselves en route.)
Back then every game was like a home match for Scotland. While the Tartan Army went south in battalion strength, the English simply did not head north in any significant numbers, so there was never any significant trouble. Yes, there was one occasion when a hooligan group turned up and made their presence felt; they were removed from the ground for their own safety. Soon after that, the fixture disappeared from the calendar, because the FA chose to play elsewhere.
According to the author of today’s piece, the usually sensible Henry Winter, the ‘security alert’ was triggered by English fans in Basle on Monday chanting ‘F*ck off Scotland’ we’re all voting Yes.’ I only wish they had votes.
Tickets sales the forthcoming game will be controlled by the two Associations involved, and the visiting side will have a limited allocation. Whatever the result on September 18 there is as much chance of trouble at the match as there is of me walking into the Telegraph office tomorrow and hitting Henry Winter with a deep-fried Mars bar