Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Many A Mickle Makes A Muckle
So there was Ian Hislop of “Private Eye”, resident in the deepest south east but being of substantial Scots descent complaining to the Leveson Inquiry in Parliament into media antics. He inveighed against the evils of the Murdoch media empire. Could this be originally a Scottish Murdoch?
He did not mention Kelvin McKenzie, oh, another Scots name, but he might well have done. Then he went on to call into question Cameron, surely not another Scot, Blair and Brown, both men with Greenock on their CV’s as well as being substantially of Scottish origin.
Also, we learn that both the Direct Line and Churchill insurance companies have had their knuckles rapped by the Financial Services Authority for tinkering with the evidence in relation to complaints about malpractice. Pause for a moment, they are both owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
RBS were taken into public ownership after it failed by a Labour government in which the Scottish Labour Party with other Scots based in England exercised great influence. This has added major burdens to the UK taxpayer and has cost them dearly. The ramifications are too much for this post.
At present there is a debate over the mechanics of conducting a referendum on the issue of Scotland in relation to England. The leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, does not agree with Cameron and Osborne (Irish Ascendancy with a leavening of Scots Irish in the ancestry) about what might be what.
Given that Cameron and Osborne are currently engaged with others in the Coalition to attempt to unscramble and rationalise RBS to raise some money from the mess their discussions with Alex could well be formed by the needs of RBS as much as anything else. The “hidden agenda” as you might say.
Because Alex is an RBS man having spent many years in senior positions. He had a great deal to do with oil companies. The bank was generous in allowing him scope in his political and public work. He has much to be grateful for and with RBS one of the major entities in the Edinburgh financial sector it was of key importance.
When Sir Fred Goodwin ruled the roost at RBS he was much sought after. The frantic fawning of Blair and Brown, hanging on his every word, possibly led to the distortions of so many of their ideas about how The City and Edinburgh worked. Alex did not need to fawn, he was already a man within.
In the high on the hog days of the heady boom of the first few years of the last decade there was the ambition to make Edinburgh the ultimate tax haven of Europe. With RBS and the HalifaxBoS amongst the powerful international anchors and the support of expatriates in other tax havens to pull in major punters all was set to make Leith a second Nassau, minus the weather and the beaches perhaps.
This idea has contracted faster and further than the Edinburgh tram project another ride to nowhere. But there are a lot of other interesting questions about RBS and all that it entails. When it succeeded in the reverse takeover of the NatWest bank there were some choice plums to be had amongst its subsidiaries.
The main one was Coutts, taken over and reorganised by NatWest to become bigger, more active in pursuing clients and more targeted in its chosen customers. I wonder who the office in Lugano is supposed to be for? This became RBS Coutts. Could Cameron be a Coutts client?
It was and may still be the private bank for much of the Royal Family. Certainly a good many recent celebrities have been drawn to it. Also others, at present the 15th Earl of Home is listed as its chairman. How many with RBS connections might have piled in when Coutts became open to them? It was not only RBS that was bailed out, it was much of the establishment.
Given the stringent privacy attached to the financial affairs of its clients, especially those whose funds are sent winging round the world then we can know little and it might be dangerous to ask. RBS Coutts has an office in the Cayman Islands, a location whose latest form of Trust provision guarantees protection against those who might want to enquire.
In the good old days before democracy took hold everyone knew who had money, where they got it from, by and large where it was held and what responsibilities were attached. Now in our free, open and non-judgemental society we have little or no idea of where our leaders and politicians money is and on what basis.
As Ian Hislop says so often in “Private Eye”, I think we should be told.