"Scotland is not flourishing. We have the lowest long-term growth in the EU and that is because we do not have the financial flexibility to give Scotland a
competitive edge. Ireland, Norway and Iceland - our three neighbours and all in
the top six wealthiest in the world - are no more talented or entrepreneurial,
they have no advantage in terms of skills, geography or people. They do have the
ability to choose their own direction and work to their strengths - an option
denied Scotland while London has remote control of the main economic levers."
So with Iceland's economy on the verge of possible bankruptcy, Ireland's shored up with Government guarantees, sees HBOS and RBS both facing tough times about to be bailed out along with other UK Banks by the UK Chancellor. Alex Salmond, that expert had earlier claimed that £100 million would have been ordered by him, if independent to shore up the Bank of Scotland. Yet both the Scottish Banks (and partner), plus Lloyds-TSB and Barclays are apparently receiving a cash injection of only half that, or shared out about one eighth each of what Alex thought was necessary.
Now I know we are facing a really tough time in the financial sector but you have to wonder how much tougher it may have been for Scotland had we followed an Icelandic example. Alex Salmond has pointed out that they worked to their strengths which no doubt at the time he would have looked to their financial sector, something that Scotland can be similarly proud of, as one of those areas that was having far reaching effects.
How far would a SNP bail out for both the Bank of Scotland and then less than a fortnight later the RBS have affected a Scottish exchequer? Would after an audacious bid to save the BoS first enabled a Scottish Chancellor to then be able to save RBS as it floundered this week?
We are living in tough times, when the financial sector is learning tough lessons. Even old boys from that world like Alex Salmond must be learning tough lessons. It is a time that calls for calm minds, tough decisions and cool judgement. Yesterday while meeting with other European Finance Ministers Alistair Darling became aware that a crisis was about to hit back home. He said he'd been working with the Bank of England to try and aid the markets as best they could, before a decision had to be made for more direct action. It isn't just a matter or awaiting the last moment it was seeing if the independence of the Banks could be maintained long enough for them to see out this storm, but the waves are about to swamp so the lifeboat is about to be launched from Number 11 Downing Street.