Letter: Banks' woes down to UK policy failings

Professors Macdonald and Hallwood (Letters, 1 December) seem to invite Scottish opinion to reconcile itself to the coalition government's distinctly underwhelming proposals for fiscal devolution on the grounds that the rest of the UK is carrying the cost of an "insurance function" for the failings of the two leading Scottish banks.

The failure of the Scottish-based banks was not due only to the incompetence and greed of the bankers but also to the cumulative failure of UK policy and regulation since Mrs Thatcher's Big Bang reforms to the City in 1986.

It is perverse to assign the costs of the resulting failures of UK authorities to protect the public interest to Scottish taxpayers rather than UK taxpayers as a whole.

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As to Macdonald and Hallwood's fears for how an economically independent Scotland might have fared in the banking crisis, those surely depend on what assumptions they make about how long Scotland had been independent prior to the crisis, how she had used that independence to diversify the Scottish economy, how the Scottish authorities had discharged their duty of financial regulation, the value of Scotland's energy resources as an alternative "insurance function" and so on.

Most of these are unknowable even to eminent economists, but I suspect that among those interested enough to speculate many will be influenced by where they look for a model for Scotland's future, to neoliberal UK and Ireland or to the Nordic social democracies.

Stephen Maxwell

Findhorn Place


Anent the front page headline, "Holyrood wins power to go 2.7bn into debt" (your report, 1 December), with the real likelihood of a Labour administration in Holyrood after May and their abysmal financial record in office UK-wide, surely powers for them to put Scotland into debt to the tune of millions of pounds is no cause for celebration.

Irvine Inglis



Under the Calman proposals Scotland may get partial control over air guns, though not, I understand, over the more powerful and dangerous ones. With independence we would be able to remove nuclear weapons from this country and its territorial waters.

David Stevenson

Blacket Place