Like my colleague Stephen Glenn, I too found Alex Neil's comments about seeking an alternative to the Lloyds-TSB deal for HBOS to be extraordinary.
Stephen's comments are well made and I would only add that yet again the Gnats are more concerned with largely symbolic issues rather than the realities of financial regulation and ownership. Let's face it: as a publicly-quoted company, HBOS's ownership hasn't been in exclusively Scottish hands for some time. Why should a collection of the Scottish banking great and good necessarily be a better option to run HBOS than Lloyds-TSB? There's no particular reason to think it would be, especially as HBOS's chairman says that the Lloyds deal is the only one in town.
If I were being uncharitable, I could point out a marked contrast between the Gnats' attitudes towards an English-based firm wanting to take over a Scottish institution and their rolling over in the face of Donald Trump's blandishments. The difference wouldn't be anything to do with anti-English prejudice, would it?
And we also need to be clear about why the Lloyds-TSB takeover makes sense. HBOS got itself into the position it did as a result of irresponsible lending, which made it more vulnerable when things turned bad. In contrast, L-TSB had far less involvement in the credit mania, making it an ideal partner to ride to the rescue of HBOS.
But the whole issue does raise wider questions than just the future of one particular bank. In particular, would Scotland be in a position to carry out effective financial regulation if it ever became independent, as favoured by Alex Neil and Alex Salmond?
I suspect not. For a start, an independent Scotland would need to set up its own central bank, its own FSA, its own Competition Commission, its own Stock Exchange and so on, all of which would come at a cost.
And even if the cost issue weren't there, would an independent Scotland really have the clout to act if, at some point in the future, the Royal Bank of Scotland wanted to take over the Clydesdale Bank, for instance? I doubt it.
The current crisis does show the need for effective regulation of the financial sector, but I think it shows why that regulation should be international in nature. Independence would not only be ineffective in dealing with the issue, it would also be potentially damaging.
Recommended Lib Dem blogs and websites
- Andrew Reeves
- Caron's Musings
- Charlotte Gore
- Cicero's Songs
- Cllr Debra Storr
- Councillor Alex Graham
- David Boyle
- Duncan Borrowman
- Fraser MacPherson
- Freedom Central
- Himmelgarten Cafe
- Jock Coats
- John Hemming MP
- Lib Dem Blogs Aggregated
- Lib Dem Voice
- Liberal Burblings
- Liberal Bureaucracy
- Liberal England
- Love and Liberty
- Lynne Featherstone MP
- Mark Reckons
- Millennium Elephant
- Norfolk Blogger
- Peter Black AM
- Quaequam Blog!
- Sara Bedford
- Scottish Liberal Democrats
- Social Liberal Forum
- Stephen Glenn
- Steve Webb MP
- The People's Republic of Mortimer
- UK Liberal Democrats
Other good political sites
Miscellaneous non-political sites
- ► 2009 (111)
- Success for Gurkha justice campaign
- The losers from the bail-out vote
- Honours even in first debate
- Ready, aim at foot, fire!
- Gnats keep undermining local democracy
- More bad news for McCain
- Your chance to interview Tavish Scott
- What's McCain scared of?
- Spending more time with the family
- Gnats in bed with some other complete bankers
- Can liberals get a fair deal from the media?
- Nick Clegg: what a terrific speech
- Nick Clegg conference speech bingo
- Can we cut taxes? And if so, how?
- Chris Huhne on top form
- Lib Dems against open justice
- Make It Happen: the right result, but...
- Nick Clegg has the answers
- A decent debut from Tavish
- Scottish Labour goes Gray
- The People's Republic rules!
- The musical guessing meme
- A terrible speech from McCain
- Cathy Jamieson: brain literally the size of a pea
- Can Salmond stop the posturing?
- Everyone's a hockey mum
- The price is wrong
- ▼ September (27)