On 19 December we learnt that French Galeries Lafayette is thinking of buying House of Fraser including Jenners (Scotsman online), and that US Halliburton is buying Aberdeen Intelligent Well Controls.
These transactions follow the pattern of the UK Inc Plc flogging off its assets, whether state or privately owned, over many decades.
There will be so few UK and Scottish enterprises left soon that the only benefit from their operation will be the taxes on the employees directly and indirectly.
Other countries are much better at protecting their revenue generators with at least partial state-ownership, particularly France – for example EDF, which the UK will ask to build nuclear power stations – and it is incumbent on Holyrood to spell out now how it will prevent what few Scottish enterprises are left from falling into “foreign” hands in the future.
There are so few big firms which are Scottish now that dependence is on overseas “goodwill”.
Surely safeguards are essential to minimise future disruption. If this seems counter-productive, remember Grangemouth, Hall’s of Broxburn, BASF in Ayrshire, Muller-Wiseman, and that Diageo and French companies own much of our whisky production.
Oil extraction is very much non-Scottish.
Stagecoach and Weir Pumps must be almost the only major sources of financial support to rely on for the long-term – at the moment.
Napoleon’s famously insulted the British as “une nation de boutiquiers” – a nation of shopkeepers. Now it seems that we can’t even keep shop, with Galeries Lafayette set to take over Jenners.