The Fate of The Scottish One: A Metaphor for Alex Salmond?

The first Scottish Numberplace

The first Scottish Numberplace

Scotland faces job losses in the wake of the tsunami in the world’s financial markets. Alex Salmond leaps into action. But the fate of a Scottish car number plate may be a salutary metaphor for the SNP and its leader

This will be remembered as the week as memorable of the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The upheavals in stock markets around the world were matched by the personal tragedies of countless individuals fearing job losses, pension and savings wipe-ups.

It was hardly worth trying to write a topical blog post, as the big issue moved on in the space of hours, from one story to the next.

One of the stories of the week was the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB. Jobs in Edinburgh were under threat, as Scottish politicians and trade-union leaders were quick to point out.

Alex Salmond was among the most vociferous voices to be heard, as he denounced the bunch of spivs who had effectively stealing Scottish jobs.

A light-hearted diversion

A light-hearted diversion in the middle of the bleakest of weeks was news of the fate of another bit of Scotland’s heritage. S1, the first Scottish car number plate, was flogged off for around £400,000. By the English of course. By a bunch of spivs as Alex might have said.

The winning bidder from the company Bold Registrations, who declined to be named, agreed to pay £397,500, inclusive of buyer’s premium.
He said: “I believe that number plates in general are a good investment, even at this price.
“The registration number will remain in the UK and will be going on an old red Skoda which will be seen around the Midlands.”

I couldn’t help noting the irony of the old red Skoda.


As the week ended, a glimmer of hope reported in the Telegraph
Since Sunday two of the world’s biggest investment banks have collapsed while an emergency takeover had to be arranged for HBOS, Britain’s biggest mortgage and savings bank. The partial recovery came after the US government unveiled a rescue package to take on bad bank debts

Is this a dove bearing a sprig of Scottish heather?

4 Responses to The Fate of The Scottish One: A Metaphor for Alex Salmond?

  1. Paul McDonald says:

    Call me a conspiracy theorist, but something’s seriously not right about the takeover of HBOS and I can feel something significant brewing over this whole issue. Alex Salmond was livid at the manner of the takeover, Westminster’s eager endorsement and the clear influence of “spivs and speculators” in the downfall of one of the Scotlands major financial powers.

    Westminsters response is to suggest Salmond is being unreasonable and then the very next day introduce measures to ban the practice of short-selling. Am I adding 2 and 2 and getting 5?

  2. Tudor says:

    A few days ago there was a public discussion at Manchester Business School as the financial Tsunami Week was happening (I hope to do a post on it).

    The question of ‘shorting’ was raised from the floor. One of the speakers (former IMF and Treasury experience) argued that short-selling was not the problem, although it tended to be accompanied by v dodgy manipulations. Andy Hornby of HBOS also defended short-selling to Robert Peston recently, saying that the markets cleared very rapidly.

    The Lloyds HBOS story is far from over, I’d say.

  3. Paul McDonald says:

    It’s difficult to tell how much of an influence short selling had directly in the HBOS affair or how much inside information short sellers had but in a market where levels of confidence can determine the fate of tens of billions of pounds it’s certainly a potentially very dangerous practice.

    I think much of Alex Salmond’s frustrations come from his not being in a position to have helped rescue the bank. As a very skilled former economist with RBS and a passionate first minister of Scotland he would have been well placed to have attempted a rescue of the bank, securing many Scottish jobs and retaining a major financial power in Edinburgh.

    In the end we have seen an historic and significant Scottish financial institution put in danger by people seeking to make a profit for the company, further pushed to the brink of collapse by city traders seeking to make a profit for themselves and a takeover eagerly endorsed by a government seeking political profit during a time of poor poll ratings and allegations of financial incompetance.

    A sad end for HBOS and a sad day for Edinburgh’s financial aspirations.

  4. Ismail Erturk says:

    Hedge funds have become a major player in international financial markets by short selling in the aftermath of crisis. Both hedge funds and private equity were allowed to be offshore and free from corporate governance costs that plc’s had to incur. There has been a wide spread official acceptance of their “positive” role in the economy although concerns were raised about their dubious business models. Only a short while ago the Labour government told the public that taxing non-doms would cause “talents” in the City – which included short selling hedge funds- to go elsewhere. Banning short selling and scapegoating hedge funds now are desperate acts by regulators and the politicians. The real issue is how to recapitalize the banks and it looks like nobody has much clue including the management of banks like HBOS. Mergers will be then a default outcome. Similarly NatWest was sold to RBS in the past although Lloyds-TSB were interested in -competition rules applied then. Currently interbank markets and stock markets are not working and nobody seems to know how to deal with this. Hence the Lloyds-TSB HBOS merger. Blaming hedge funds is fudging the issue big way and being hypocritical. I am no fan of hedge funds. But I am worried about the policy responses and moral u-turns. When the authorities use fear to convince the public about the correctness of their policies transparency and even democracy suffer. Bush is doing exactly the same in the US.- support the 700 billion bail-out as we designed it because there is no alternative and tomorrow might be too late. Where have Paulson, Bernanke, Bush, Brown, Darling, all CEOs of banks been since August 2007 or January 2008?

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