News that Standard Life might leave Scotland after a Yes vote, while Royal Bank of Scotland is considering its options, as is the industrial Weir Group, should serve to remind politicians of their place in the pecking order of who really runs things.
The bankers and financiers who control the money supply call the shots; shareholder-driven industry does what it has to do to make profits; and the media then tells the public what to think about that.
Politicians merely comment on what has happened after these real masters have made their moves.
Anyone who think differently is deluded.
It is wise that Standard Life should be considering what it will do after independence.
It is important that journalists report things like this in a balanced way and challenge the information.
Gerry Grimstone, the chairman of Standard Life, was Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation guru.
The bank insisted this week that it has a long-standing policy of strict political neutrality.
No one knows exactly how things will play out after the referendum and Standard Life is only saying it will move if the conditions set out for monetary policy make it hard for it to stay in Scotland.
This is therefore a political statement made in a political way.
Those contradictions need to be challenged
Those predicting that Standard Life and other companies will flee Scotland need to think about the likely consequences of a Yes vote in David Cameron’s “Out of Europe” referendum in the rUK.
Then, international businesses headquartered in England for the purpose of free access to the European market (a good example being Nissan) will need to remove to another (English speaking) EU country, very possibly Scotland.
Bridge of Canny
Clearly, without a currency union, major companies based in Scotland will be reconsidering their position as they need to have the security of a central bank as a lender of last resort.
Under the SNP plans, there would be no such bank if they use the pound without a currency zone agreement.
The main point at which the talk of a sterling zone breaks down is at the point where the Bank of England would have to back failing institutions based in a separate country over whose conduct they would have no control.
However, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thinks that it is only “common sense” for the Bank to do this, despite rather obvious flaws.
Since a separate Scotland will be immensely wealthy we will be much more readily able to cope with financial upsets than all those poor, broke blighters in London.
Clearly, the Bank of England should be persuaded to move to Edinburgh where, with our oil wealth, Scotland could provide the lender of last resort guarantees that Scottish institutions like Standard Life, RBS, HBoS, Scottish Widows etc require, plus all those institutions in the City of London.
The Bank of England would need to change its name, of course, but then, there would be no problem with a sterling zone at all. Problem solved.
Andrew HN Gray