GEORGE Kerevan’s article (There are options for troubled RBS in Scotland following independence (The National, February 20) certainly poses many questions for a wider debate. The British nationalist media tried during the referendum, to portray Scotland not only as an economic
basket-case, but as incapable of managing its own finance and currency. Alex Salmond, with expertise and experience in banking economics, was vilified and demonised, along with Scotland’s alleged inability to do anything at all.
No-one can point to any country that refused to fight for independence over the issue of what currency they would have. Ireland showed more bottle by just using the pound despite England’s objections. If we have control of the resources and skills of our people we can soon decide the best system for ourselves.
And all of this despite Scotland’s successful pioneering role in banking history.
Sir William Paterson, a Scot, was the founder of the Bank
of England. He was arrested for discrepancies in the French Deal and known for the failure of the Darien Scheme. He did, however, have the foresight to envisage the value of the Panama Canal. His efforts were destroyed by the Williamite faction, who forbade the English colonies to trade with them, and encouraged the Spanish to attack them, afore they would allow a separate trading post in the Americas.
The tobacco barons and linen traders virtually founded bank notes with their promissory notes, issued from the Ship Bank Inn in Glasgow’s Saltmarket. They were able to buy and sell cargoes before they landed in the Broomielaw. They were trusted because of their Presbyterian honesty.
The French Huguenots and Jacobite sympathisers expanded the tobacco trade throughout Europe, despite English attempts to the contrary. During the Jacobite wars the Bank of Scotland and RBS played ambiguous roles. Banks do not like wars as instruments of instability, unless they can make a profit. The Bank of Scotland chief cashier in Edinburgh, a Campbell, was believed to have Jacobite sympathies but played the money game. Indeed, the Earl of Argyll was forced to intervene to avoid civil war among the Campbells over the clansmen wishing to support the Jacobites. They soon learned to foreclose mortgages on loans to failed Jacobite clans, not from sentiment, but from business.
The MacLeans, for example, were renowned mercenaries throughout Europe in the 17th century and neglected their estates, forcing their frustrated Campbell lenders to evict them.
One option from George Kerevan’s discussion would be for Scotland to have its own national bank. Even municipal banks have been proposed historically and have been enacted elsewhere.
One Tory MP said that nationalisation for Scotland means denationalisation from London. This was proven when the Scottish Trustee Savings Bank was nationalised and came back as a private English Lloyds Bank, which also took over the Bank of Scotland, which had previously been taken over by the Halifax mortgage company.
The Trustee bank and Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society bank were popular with the Scottish working class who could make small deposits each pay day. In England, building societies were more popular and the working class had a tradition of buying their homes that
did not take effect in Scotland till the 70s.
We now see the successful and popular Airdrie Savings Bank foreclosed, not on commercial grounds but on legislative restrictions. As George hinted, we cannot allow greedy commercial bankers to be our masters. Have we the guts and the political will to take the only logical steps towards Scottish state banking? Holyrood could lead here, if it had the capital from our stolen and plundered resources?
OF all Donald Trump’s appointments, his choice for the post of US ambassador to Israel must be one of the strangest in the annals of diplomacy. David Friedman has raised millions of dollars for Israeli settlements. He has a home in Talbiyeh, a West Jerusalem neighbourhood that was ethnically cleansed in 1948.
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Friedman heads the American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center. In that capacity, he has funnelled millions of dollars into an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Consequently, he has played a key role in sustaining a colony that violates international law.
Friedman’s efforts to present himself as moderate should not fool anyone. He claimed, for example, that he currently does not support annexation of the West Bank by Israel. Yet annexation is clearly the objective of the settler movement to which he belongs. When Senator Bob Corker, who chaired the confirmation hearing, expressed astonishment that he was willing to “recant every strongly held belief that you’ve expressed,” Friedman replied that serving as ambassador to Israel would be the “fulfilment of my life’s work”.
Democrat displeasure was encapsulated by Senator Tom Udall who complained that Friedman regarded anyone who doesn’t agree with his “extreme views or approach to Israel” as an “anti-Semite.” The posting of a settlement advocate as US ambassador to Israel would certainly mark a new extreme. But it would not be illogical.
For decades, the US political elite – Democrats and Republicans alike – have advanced Israel’s colonialist project by providing billions of dollars in military aid. This is simply another step toward normalising the illegal settlement.
With Trump indicating that he does not care whether Israel and the Palestinians choose one state or two, such settlements appear certain to grow and soon the US will have to choose between accepting Israeli apartheid or insisting on equal rights for all.
IT WAS disappointing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that Lord Mandelson’s statement – “Over five, six times more trade by Scotland is with the rest of the UK, not with the EU” – was not challenged by his Scottish host.
It is possible he was referring to Scotland’s import figures rather than export figures, as the UK’s growing trade deficit with the rest of the world perhaps implies that this poor trade situation is reflected in “intra UK” trade. Of course, if this was the case it would also imply that with regard to the value of trade rUK is more dependent on Scotland than Scotland is dependent on rUK.
The actual estimated rUK/EU export ratio of around four does not bear even cursory scrutiny as “evidence” to support Scotland remaining in the UK, even if one ignores the fundamental fallacy in thinking that rUK will seek to deter trade with an independent Scotland (in or out of the EU) but continue to encourage increasing trade with the Irish Republic.
Not only do the export figures ignore oil, gas and water, not only are they predominantly comprised of services (55 per cent) rather than manufactured goods (23 per cent with an rUK/EU export ratio of under two), not only do they not cover components or constituent services that are in turn “re-packaged” for export beyond rUK, these estimates represent only 26 per cent of firms solicited for information and most likely those with the most straightforward export destination, namely rUK.
LESLEY Riddoch (£21m new nuclear archive ignores a better Wick legacy, The National, February16) refers to the Johnston collection which has 43,000 images [of Wick’s fishing history] but no purpose-built facility.
She suggests that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should have incorporated collections of this kind into its new facility, and that a multi-purpose museum would have been more useful to the local community.
As a member of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group I have asked for the need to include in the National Nuclear Archives the history of campaigning groups. It may not fit well with the PR of the NDA but it is still part of the industry’s history.
Chairperson Highlands Against Nuclear Transport