The Scotsman Opens Door To Smoke Filled Bank Vaults

There has been something nagging me about the whole 'rescue' plans for the Scottish banks put in place by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his fellow Scot, Chancellor Alistair Darling.

But I couldn't put my finger on it until yesterday, when Bill Jamieson at The Scotsman wrote this piece  which sent me Twittering away on my iPhone.

It was his pay off line, understated yet elegant, that let the penny drop:

"This may be seen as a rescue now. As time passes, we will view it as a financial Culloden"

Today his paper picks up the thread, bares it's new found teeth, and bites back for the institutions that are about to be sold down the river for what appears to be shameless political gain.

It is posing some hard hitting questions – almost campaign like – demanding to know why HBOS still has to go cap in hand to Lloyds TSB, when events should now make it possible to retain it – and the thousands of associated jobs – where they are.

And they, under editor Mike Gilson, are right to do so.

In one breath Gordon Brown says: "This is not the time for party political points."

Yet in the very next, he booms: "The important thing is that we were able to act decisevly with £37billion. That would not have been possible with a Scottish administration."

"We were able to put the whole strength of the United Kingdom behind these two banks and I think it's important because I value the Scottish banking tradition. I think everybody does."

Not the time for political point scoring, eh?

Now no-one would be foolish enough to say the entire package was initially put together in order to dent Nationalist ambitions.

But it was a rather convenient spin-off.

A nation without fiscal autonomy would be weakened terribly. Which would potentially make the allure of staying within a united GB more attractive to voters.

So it is now fair of the paper to ask why, when other credible options appear to be available, is the Government still hell-bent on favouring the original take-over of HBOS?

Take it a stage-further at look at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

It too is having its autonomy diluted in ways few could ever have imagined. But it is the appointment of Stephen Hester that catches the eye.


Well did he not happen to be appointed to the Northern Rock board just recently, a bank that was, oh yes, Nationalised  by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling.

None of it, for me, sits very well ahead of a by-election in Glenrothes, let alone ahead of a planned referendum on Scotland's future intentions.

And it is times like these papers can and should be pulling out all the stops to ask probing questions where no-one else can.

I've had issues with The Scotsman in recent years, it hasn't been the weighty read I used to enjoy so wholeheartedly.

But over the past few weeks it has been confident, diligent and wise.

It's reporting team of Bill Jamieson, Peter Jones and co would thoroughly deserve a Press Award for it's commentary.

If it keeps it up, the paper may just about deserve one too.

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1 reply

  1. Quite right Shaun. The tone of The Scotsman has been notably more serious and authoritative in the last few weeks because Bill Jamieson, a serious journalist, is running the show. It is yet more evidence that Scottish newspaper readers deserve serious journalism that is relevant to them, rather than the irrelevant, facile rubbish – cheap eats for the family was one imbecilic Metro-like feature I saw in The Scotsman recently – that has consistently been dished up to the paper’s alienated readership of late. Jamieson’s triumph is no small feat amid the current myopia of Scottish newspaper editors who for years have put lifestyle coverage ahead of hard news when marketing their papers. It is no coincidence that circulation has tanked under those same editors. Good work Bill.

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