Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lib Dems Stand Up for Scottish Banks and Business

You may remember that when the banks collapsed, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott campaigned against the merger, pointing out that it would cost jobs, be hugely expensive for the taxpayer and restrict consumers' choice in banking.

It was good to see Liberal Democrats vote against the Labour Government's plans to rush through the takeover regardless of the Competition Commission's concerns, when Alex Salmond, for all his bluster, didn't bother to turn up, as I said at the time.

I'm glad that Tavish is continuing to stand up for the Scottish banking industry and is continuing to call for the superbank to be broken up, bringing the Bank of Scotland home, in the interests of Scottish business.

In an e-mail today, he said that:

"I met the EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes in the summer. She made it plain to me, as a fellow Liberal, that she thinks that giant banks are bad for business for everybody else – especially when they are being financed by the taxpayer. That’s why I propose to move Bank of Scotland out of the giant Lloyds Group and have it back home in Scotland, lending to soundly-based Scottish businesses. That is the demand I hear from the companies I have been speaking to in high streets and business parks across Scotland."

Earlier in the week, Lib Dem shadow Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael warned of the consequences of the news that Barclays is to take over Edinburgh based Standard Life's banking operations:

“Scotland’s financial services have already been hit by the misguided creation of the Lloyds-HBOS superbank, supported by the Labour government. The takeover of Standard Life’s banking business by Barclays threatens to further damage competition.

“It could also mean further bad news for Scotland’s financial sector as yet more Edinburgh-headquartered business moves under London-based control.

“Labour and the SNP need to get their acts together – or Edinburgh risks losing its hard-won reputation as a leading European financial services centre, and the many jobs that depend on it.”

Stephen observed that business's love affair with the SNP is cooling as they cope with the reality of Alex Salmond's unsubtle, tackety booted and sometimes unhelpful approach to business.

Labour ought to be ashamed of themselves, both north and south of the border, for their failures - firstly to regulate the banks properly in the first place, and then in going to their first instinct - to centralise and control, rather than find a solution which served the interests of hard pressed individuals and businesses.

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