It began with the 1986 Big Bang that did away with banking regulation, giving for-profit banks control over the UK financial system. This cartel of privately owned banks was gifted the privilege of owning the national currency and lending it back to the state as debt, leading to the now familiar cycle of boom and bust. They do this by issuing credit and because they are risk-averse, driven by shareholders’ interest and quick profits, they direct the vast majority of their lending towards low-risk financial assets and property speculation.
These activities do not generate new wealth in the form of goods and services. A mere 6 per cent of the £7.13 trillion total bank lending is business lending. This leads to gross asset price inflation, stagnating productivity, wealth inequality, unemployment and poverty. Former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said: “Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today.”
An independent Scotland has an opportunity to build a financial system that prioritises public wealth creation over private greed. We need a network of community banks that lend to small and medium-sized businesses for productive purposes, similar to the 1,500 community banks in Germany. We could end the destructive cycle of boom and bust, reduce inequality, create good well-paid jobs and eliminate poverty.
Au revoir, RBS.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh
Boris not for life
In Joyce McMillan's Perspective article yesterday she itemises the many shortcomings of Boris Johnston as strengthening the argument for a second Independence Referendum. She does, however, miss one important point.
Independence is for ever, not just for Christmas, whereas Boris could be gone in months, if not days, if he continues his bumbling questionable ways, he is not permanent in his job, but is subject to the support of his Party and of Parliament. His replacement could well cause her to re-think her arguments.
David Gerrard, Spylaw Park, Edinburgh
What is important. The cost of Lord Irvine’s wallpaper in 1998, and now Boris Johnson’s flat decoration in 2021? Meanwhile the UK is in debt to a sum larger than its annual Gross Domestic Product. That is to say, we are bankrupt.
Could we therefore pay attention to something that actually matters, and perhaps even consider the successful work of a government during a world crisis, rather than the cost of interior decorating.
Malcolm Parkin, Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross
Scotland at risk
Scottish people love Scotland and love living in Scotland; The Scottish culture, heritage and traditions are what bond true Scots together. Surely, then, we want to see our great country prosper and flourish in our lifetime here, and 6 May 2021 is when each of us can make a difference.
Alex Salmond recently said: “Scotland has not failed; its leadership has failed”, and whether we like that or not, it has. But not only in the last few weeks. The track record on the Scottish economy is not good. It has long been lagging behind the UK economy but now the prediction must be considered dreadful. In 2019 Scotland’s GDP was 8 per cent lower than the UK’s as a whole. We know that between 2000 and 2019, while GDP in the UK grew at a rate of 1.7% per cent, in Scotland it grew at a much smaller 1.3 per cent. Employment in the same period grew at 0.9 per cent in the UK as a whole, but only at 0.6 per cent in Scotland.
Realistically then, any vote for the SNP on 6 May is a vote for an independence referendum, which carries with it the horrific possibility of Scotland being ripped out of the heart of the UK and our already mediocre economy would plummet.
Why put this beautiful country at so much risk? No political party is perfect, but we simply cannot risk the Nationalists dragging Scotland off the road and into the ditch; we have come too far and have too much to cherish to allow that.
David Lindberg, Kilmarnock
Events in India tell us what a public health crisis really looks like. Scotland’s opposition politicians may wish to be more careful, less reckless, in their use of “crisis” to describe the situation here. The opportunism in use is clear from the repetitive linkage, at every opportunity, of crisis, recovery and the supposed threat of an independence referendum. The reality is that another referendum will not be held until Covid is under control and measures are in place and underway to address its impact. Insofar as Covid has exposed deep-seated inequalities and weaknesses, these can only be addressed over the long-term and the choice between union and independence remains very relevant. If you want yet more years of Conservative cronyism and corruption at Westminster, that choice will be available.As to the final component of this new Project Fear – a referendum consumes all other endeavours – that is only the experience of those in the political bubble with no governing responsibilities. For the rest of us, teachers will still teach, doctors doctor, the trains and buses run, it will be possible to get a haircut, visit a pub, gym or restaurant – and if you tire of politicians during a campaign, change channels. But we should all remember that a democratic event is not a threat in a democracy and to so claim is irresponsible and dangerous.
Robert Farquharson, Lee Crescent, Edinburgh
At last, a prominent politician (Alistair Carmichael, Perspective, 30 April) has pointed out the close parallels between the mendacious arguments of Brexiteers and the slogans of the SNP. It has been obvious to me for ages that the separatists have been using words and slogans almost identical to those who succeeded in splitting the UK away from the EU: “We'll take control of our borders, our economy, our taxes; we're a sovereign nation; we'll unleash Scotland's potential, etc” We've even seen the nonsense of "they need us more than we need them” being put forward while all the warnings from internationally respected experts such as the LSE or IfS are summarily dismissed without explanation as "Project Fear".
Instead we hear from Nicola Sturgeon that "arrangements will be put in place" to ensure free flow of trade between England and a separate Scotland. No explanation of what these arrangements will be, of course, because she hasn't a clue. She states that there won't be a hard border with England, ignoring that all that and much more would be matters for negotiation with politicians who the separatists claim don't take account of Scotland's interests or are even inimical to us.
Faced with the inevitable bankruptcy and/or intolerable austerity which separation from the rest of the country would bring, I'd rather work hard to get rid of the current UK government at the earliest opportunity. Johnson and his crew aren't there forever but we in Scotland would be condemned to a lifetime of unpleasantness if the separatist SNP cult got their way with their fantasy wishlists.
Bill Cooper, Highfield Circle, Kinross
On Radio 4's Today programme this week, Nicola Sturgeon rightly states that no one is talking about excluding an independent Scotland from the UK common travel area – but maybe it's time Westminster got tough and started to?
Post-Scexit, the SNP assumes Scots will have the right to work in England and, if Scotland were ever to meet the EU's stringent entry requirements and join the EU in many years time, also work in mainland Europe. However almost none of us are fluent in any other language but English so the chance to work in the EU is meaningless – it's only the job opportunities provided elsewhere in the UK that are of value.
If Westminster withdraws the right for Scots from an independent Scotland to work in England, then in practice, Scots can't easily secure a job anywhere else. That will, of course, be fine for some but others may find it restrictive in that independence would be career limiting, shrinking freedom of choice and opportunity. Time for Westminster to become as aggressive as the SNP?
Martin Redfern, Melrose
It was most refreshing to read John Munro's thoughtful letter about Scottish education (30 April). For as long as I can remember, people have been tinkering with education at all levels. The only effect of this incessant change has been to allow successive national governments to avoid having to address the social problems of which educational disparity is only a symptom.
It was also refreshing to read a letter that did contain any of the ritual, repetitive chants, which every day try to blame every contemporary problem on the SNP.
Peter Dryburgh, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh
Question: Will Boris Johnson be able to take the flat renovation with him when he leaves Downing St? Will Keir Starmer inherit the renovation if he were to win the election?
Allan Thompson, Bearsden, Glasgow
Research by the University of California found that small amounts of seaweed in cattle feed could reduce methane emissions from beef cattle by as much as 82 per cent (your report, 30 April). That is great news. Now can we have some research to see if feeding seaweed to politicians, climate scientists and COP delegates would limit the amount of hot air they have been spouting for decades.
Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow
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