Even before we become independent has the SNP sold out Scotland, to The City of London? I sincerely hope not, and not just because I voted SNP, but a little red light of unease has been blinking in my mind since February 2015 when I inspired an MSP with my ideas and helped her to formulate three carefully crafted Parliamentary Questions on SME financing and banks.
But first, Brexit.
Brexit, oh look – jobs!
There seems to be a number of people saying foolish things about Edinburgh rivaling, or that it might at least compete with, London to be the financial capital of Europe.
This from Nicholas McPherson, the chief architect of the Treasury’s anti Indy stance in 2014, is quite something! https://t.co/ktdKlpXUuE
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 8, 2016
Don’t they remember all the talk, in between coughing up the dust of 2008, about re-balancing the economy away from financial services? The argument is that with London haemorrhaging bank jobs, an independent, highly educated Scotland in the EU is ideally placed …; you get the idea.
Yes, it could be done, but is it wise?
The occasional blogger or Tweeter explicitly makes the case or suggestion, but Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted an image of a headline then a link to the FT article by ‘ex-Treasury mandarin’ Nicholas McPherson which headlines “The case for Scottish independence looks stronger post-Brexit”.
It’s noteworthy that such a senior figure does a volte-face, but you have to be suspicious of why; I doubt he is overwhelmed with the best interests of Scotland’s citizens all of a sudden, it would
provide a historic opportunity for Edinburgh to develop further as a financial centre, as London-based institutions hedge their bets on the location of staff and activities, he said, and we should note that he said ‘London-based’.
You also have to wonder just how much agreement beyond the ‘Indy stance’ the FM is signaling by the exclamation of “quite something!”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said (4 July 2016)
Scotland already has a world class financial services sector and clearly there would be potentially huge advantages to the industry … if we secure our EU status and position in the single market.
If you look around the World the financial sector means; terrorist and drug-money laundering, tax-evasion enabling, PPI mis-selling, pension mis-selling, and let’s not forget RBS and other large banks conspiring with accountants and valuers to fraudulently undervalue assets (as pretext for declaring loan default to grab those assets); and the list goes on.
FCA fines against banks 2014/15 were £880 million, and against individuals were £17 million.
Is this what it means to be world class? If so what does the SNP propose to do to stamp out this behaviour in Edinburgh come Independence Day? Nothing at all that I’ve heard of, you?
What would the impact on the Scottish economy be if over the first five years of independence the newly transferred financial institutions were fined £66.5 billion?
Think about that. Think about it and you shiver.
I wonder exactly what ‘potentially huge advantages for the London-based institutions‘ encompasses.
Inviting in and even celebrating financialisation isn’t just a far greater strategic error than posing with The Sun; it’s hugely dangerous.
Perhaps the bankers and Murdoch are in for a shock from the SNP in an independent Scotland. Maybe there are plans to restore some degree of the financial regulations to Scotland that were erased by Thatcher in the big bang of 1986, maybe not. Maybe there are plans to reverse the Blair/Brown deregulation of 1997, maybe not.
Maybe there are plans to ensure media plurality, and residency requirements and restrictions to cross-ownership of press and broadcast media; but maybe not.
Are the Murdochs, Barclays and Rothermeres and other offshore entities to reign over our culture in the future as they do today, and as the banks do the £UK and finances?
Threats of legal action from the landed gentry saw the Land Reform Act have some of its best teeth drawn; anonymous offshore companies still keep secret who owns a lot of Scotland’s land. To own any of our .scot cyberland you have to prove you are, at least, part of “Scotland’s diaspora”.
Can we conclude from this and the initial draft of the Land Reform Act that the SNP really does intend a progressive independence?
Is it circular or is it triangulating?
After the McPherson FT article we have a City AM editorial which amplifies McPherson’s small state, low tax themes and notes the potential for the financial sector move to Edinburgh; then we have George Kerevan writing, again in City AM, he says,
think of the advantages for City-based institutions of Scotland’s bank passporting rights as a continuing member of the EU, and quotes the small state, low tax bit from the editorial; which is based on the McPherson article, which Nicola Sturgeon thought was quite something.
Again I wonder what exactly ‘potentially huge advantages for City of London based institutions‘ encompasses.
It’s no surprise that McPherson, a member of the corrupt, banker-bought and paid for Westminster, makes the case for implementing in Scotland the already discredited austerity economics and corporatist tax regulations of the sort The Tax Justice Network is fighting against globally.
It is surprising that the FM makes no qualification of this content, despite the alluring headline. Aren’t the SNP supposed to be against austerity? I know I am, you? Then George Kerevan confirms he was talking about cuts and low tax by tweeting that his ‘speculations’ aren’t SNP policy.
Aye, it’s quite something right enough.
But now back to that little red light of unease that’s been blinking in my mind since three triangulating Parliamentary Questions were asked by the SNPs Christina McKelvie.
Christina emailed me that she had given “John Swinney’s advisors” (he was Finance Minister at the time) details of this site’s proposals and forwarded me the submitted PQs; we both anticipated answers which would bring these ideas to the floor of parliament. We were both sorely disappointed with the replies and that it wasn’t John Swinney who answered.
Reserved Powers PQs
It occurred to me soon after this disappointment that there was now an opportunity for the Scottish Government to put the Coalition on the spot. MSPs can ask questions on Reserved Powers like income tax and the bank-levy.
I composed two questions in the wording required and Christina submitted them.
- To ask the Scottish Government what representations it has made to the UK Government regarding encouraging bank lending to SMEs;
- by setting the bank-levy as the cost to the UK state of payments of Jobseekers Allowance as determined by monthly ONS figures.
- by dynamically setting the top-rate of income tax of everyone who works for a bank at ten times the percentage rate of unemployment in the UK as determined by monthly ONS figures.
It would have been quite something for the Scottish Government to force the Coalition to reply to those questions shortly before the 2015 general election.
However the questions were rejected by the Chamber Desk Clerks as not passing the Scots Parliament business test; Christina was given “verbal guidance” she related via email as,
it’s the cross over with devolved/reserved matters that is the issue. She then suggested that I should find a Westminster MP to ask a question in the Commons.
There was one final step that could be taken. I emailed her,
An appeal to the Presiding Officer may be in order as described in point 9 of the Guidance on Parliamentary Questions, ‘Resolution of Disputes on Admissibility’, because there was a
clear impact on a matter for which the Scottish Government has responsibility – the criteria used to judge.
It took me a few emails to realise she was now ignoring me, I never got a reply to the suggestion the reserved powers questions be appealed. What about proposing it as SNP policy? I also asked, but with never a reply.
I was suspicious that someone with influence over SNP policy had told Christina to drop the whole thing, why else not take a final punt at the Presiding Officer? There was nothing to lose. Why the silence? Why had John Swinney body-swerved the original three questions?
Now post-Brexit we have a Scottish Government spokesperson and a senior SNP figure making ‘potentially huge advantages for City of London based institutions‘ welcoming noises to big banking interests, my unease is much greater, and now I suspect that financial sector interests were the reason for those life-draining non-answers and an MSP suddenly going from enthusiasm for an idea to stone-cold indifference.
Brexit, oh oh.
What of a Scottish currency? No commentator to be taken seriously is saying other than an independent Scotland must create one sooner than later.
Our own, publicly owned, central bank should be the only source of Scot-Pounds. The people of Scotland are sovereign, the people of Scotland are the economy. The people’s economy is what will back a Scottish currency – the people’s central bank should issue debt-free money to the people’s government to spend on infrastructure and public works. “Electronically” issued money should be issued as block-chain cryptocurrency.
Are we to hand over our newly minted resource to the professional money-launders we’re importing from London? Why?
We need to ask the SNP.
Take care of Growth and the deficit and debt will disappear all by themselves
Anyone who argues that we must endure even five minutes of austerity in a newly independent Scotland should just get in the sea (not the North Sea, it’s our oil).
The more we can prevent the financial sector siphoning off wealth when they act as simple conduits, the more money will be circulating in the economy, which in and of itself generates growth.
Let’s not have “bank loans” at all. Instead any bank wanting a license to operate in Scotland can only charge a flat, administration fee for acting as the interface to the central bank; interest is still charged, but is paid to the central bank.
You’re borrowing Scot-Pounds from the Scottish people, via the people’s central bank, so interest on that money shouldn’t be paid anywhere else, should it? Why?
The unique opportunity of the global financial crash should have been taken to tober the global financial system – it was missed, they are operating ‘business as usual’.
We in Scotland will shortly have another opportunity to show not only that #sexySocialism works, but that linking the banking system’s taxes to the performance of the whole economy will be an integral part of it.
The wonga-cost of importing banking jobs
You could go to Wonga and get a loan that you’d pay thousands of percent interest on, but it would be madness to do it if you could manage by any other means to avoid it.
There is an analogous cost to the claimed 50,000 jobs we could import by dropping the steaming pile of an unreformed London financial sector into the middle of six million people.
Like a tentacular strangling fig its tendrils will reach out to the talent in Dundee, turning Yes City into a cross between a scene from Grand Theft Auto and Biff Tannen’s chaotic Hill Valley dystopia in Back To The Future II. The “wonga-interest” cost of an instant jobs-boost, is a huge swathe of skills and human intelligence diverted into the financial monster to feed the people at the top obscene salaries and bonuses which leaves the rest of the economy withered.
The strangling fig really is a great analogy for the banking system. The strangling fig relies on a forest of growth existing before it can. The banking system cannot exist without there first being a “real” economy. It lands on the upper reaches of industry, diverts resources to itself, killing the industry, and all that’s left is the shape of where the real economy once was, with the banks then feeding off the whole forest, as now it’s encompassed the whole of journalism, politics, government and society; the outcome for them will be the same.
The financial sector has been throttling the UK as a whole, how much worse would it be to have even half of it encircling 6 million Scots than 64 million Brits?
It isn’t just the academically brilliant and gifted we all paid to put through our free universities which the financial sector swallows up – who now serve themselves and cut the throats of everyone – but many other “ancillary” ones; there is a 15 to 20 percent pay premium the financial sector pays for “non-core” jobs; this ranges from cleaners to IT managers, secretaries to computer programmers.
This is the imbalance of the UK economy which was and still is the herbicide to growth outside London.
And inside London nothing grows but finance and tax-dodging companies servicing the bankers by exploiting the captivated, zero-hours slaves serving them coffees and posh breads, or lubricating their throats with artisan beers or their cocks with their c***s and their mouths to pay off loans imposed for university fees when the same breed of bastards purloined billions from their parents with the help of politicians who quickly bent-over for the billionaire news networks underwritten by the bankers who blamed the unemployed for there not being any jobs.
Still, not to worry.
In an independent Scotland the financial sector will leverage the underwriting power of North Sea oil to ensure the Scot-Pound will be sound and highly (over) valued, which means an SNP, Gordon Brown equivalent will be able to declare that Scotland is punching above its weight in the international markets. Will John Swinney’s successors speechify to penguin-suited financiers that history will record the beginning of a new golden age?
What should be a vibrant, exciting, diverse burst of growth across Scotland which becomes self-sustaining, like a flood in a dessert which creates a rainy climate, will instead be a scrub-land surrounding an opulent oasis of luxurious corruption for a few.
Compare the north of England with Kensington.
The purpose of the First Minister is not to wave employment statistics in the faces of opposition and yoon media. That’s a choice of political theatre, and choosing that is to play the game which has given us Thatcher, Blair and Cameron.
Scotland does not need a Public Relations First Minister, we’ve seen what’s happened to Westminster with PR PMs, and it’s still bleeding us and the rUK citizenry dry. Do I really think Nicola Sturgeon is even a little like Cameron – style without substance? No, but there’s a little red light of unease blinking behind my eyelids.
Any half-way decent and intelligent person in Scotland rightly despises Thatcherism, and many have ample reason to have despised her personally. I for one applaud Nicola Sturgeon for her consistent condemnations on the extremist, right-wing Prime Minister, but how ironic would it be 30 years hence to point to Nicola Sturgeon and say, “She invited in the very essence of Thatcherism and we are now paying the price”?
What is the Scotland we want? Edinburgh as a mini-Westminster with ensuite golf and grouse shooting? Plus fours plus fuckwits bagging birdies and letting fly at plump ptarmigans, with Balmoral bonnets for the pheasant beating peasants which we’re to doff to the tartan trewsed neo-gentry?
London isn’t just the UK capital of capital, it is the World Capital of the financial sector. Do we really want to import, wholesale, the most corrupt system in the world to our infant, born-again country?
If we try to rival London, we will become London. Happy Independence Day.