Scots banking system was not to blame

While I acknowledge the contribution Alistair Martin (letters, April 17) is making to the independence debate, I feel it necessary to point out some of his omissions in the context of what took place during the financial crisis the UK experienced.

It is untrue to claim “were it not for Westminster and the Bank of England bailing out the Scottish banks, they would have been totally destroyed”.

The answer to Mr Martin’s naked attempt at scaremongering is simply to say that banks are not bailed out by the nation in which they are headquartered – they are bailed out by where the contagion from their failure hits.

If you take research from the United States Government Audit Office, which has analysed data from the US Federal Reserve, it is clear that, for example, Royal Bank of Scotland received a total of $541billion in loans and Barclays $868billion, these loans originating from the US Government. These are loans that, in all likelihood, will not be repaid, but were the source of much-needed global liquidity that averted the crisis.

Mr Martin seeks to lay the liability for the banking crisis that effected the entire world at the door of the Scottish banking system and this is wholly misleading.

In the case of RBS, this US funding was in addition to the share purchase authorised by Alistair Darling, as UK Chancellor, on behalf of the citizens of the UK. The failure, or near failure, of these banks was visited upon people across the UK and not solely upon residents of England by the “Scottish banks”.

Mr Martin feels it necessary to make a direct connection between the magnanimity of the Bank of England and the Westminster Government that, for all intents and purposes, was instrumental in causing the crisis in the first place.

Was it not Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown and Ed Balls who were instrumental in dismantling banking regulation over several years, abolishing boom and bust – and in the process selling off a considerable proportion of UK gold reserves – to save a bank? Ultimately, a collapse in trust between banking counterparts in the globally-interconnected financial system gave rise to a systemic shock that required unprecedented bailouts by governments around the world.

It is these same people who are now telling the people of Scotland that we are Better Together and that it is the UK which prevents us from financial Armageddon.

I believe this is not true and making these statements is done with the objective of sowing fear and doubt to ensure people rightly concerned with these issues to vote to remain within the system that has, for so long, badly let them down.

If it were true that the UK is necessary to protect “Scottish banks”, then why did certain Scandinavian countries miss out on the biggest global banking crisis ever experienced?

Another Scotland is possible – a Scotland that has control over legislation and regulation that will allow us to prevent future banking crises, one that is not directly connected to the City of London and a set of Westminster priorities that are at odds with the long-held Scottish traits of prudence and financial accountability.

Alistair White

(leader, Borders group, Business for Scotland)

Harleyburn Court