ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND threatened Scottish voters with relocating its registered offices south of the border in the event of a vote for Scottish independence, causing fears in Scotland of job losses and economic instability. From the moment of the referendum defeat the Butterfly Rebellion has advocated and called for a boycott of the bank and other institutions that used their influence during the campaign to intimidate employees and voters into voting to keep Scotland tied to the most unequal state in Europe. Our calls for a boycott have not been without criticism from within the independence movement, with a great many people looking for positive measured directed towards rewarding those firms and institutions which supported our cause for independence. This is a difficult point to argue with. It certainly shows Scottish people in the best light. We are willing to forgive past wrongs and move on with a positive attitude into the future. It also leaves a significant stumbling-block in the way to our independence.
We will have another chance to go to the polls and decide whether or not we wish to become an independent state. Our worry is that, by leaving the Royal Bank of Scotland and other powerful institutions where they are, we may be hoping for third time luck. Do we seriously imagine that, if left unchecked, they will not try harder next time to bar our exit from the United Kingdom? They have seen how close we came to winning. It made them sweat. Given the same change again they will work even harder against us, and – right now – they have the money and the clout to make it so much more difficult for us. The Royal Bank of Scotland may have branches on our high-streets, and it may indeed offer and invaluable service to people in rural communities, but none of this equates to a bank that is good for Scotland or a bank that is good for our hopes of independence.
With a name like the Royal Bank of Scotland some may be lulled into a mistaken sense of loyalty towards a Scottish bank. In fact this name is a misnomer. It may have had its once-upon-a-time roots in Scotland, but now more than 80% belongs to UK Financial Investments, a London based financial management company which is wholly owned by the British government. Smell a rat? It was against the financial interests of the British government to lose Scotland, and so it used it directorial stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland as a weapon against voters.
Not even the brass of the bank has much of the Scot about it. The chairman, Sir Phillip Hampton, is an Oxford graduate, and its CEO, Ross McEwan, is a banker from New Zealand. Like Coca (“Killer”) Cola and Shell, the Royal Bank of Scotland is just another multinational operating to its own selfish ends in Scotland, albeit with a useful name. Unlike the thousands of Scottish families living below the breadline, a crisis caused by the recklessness of this and other multinational banking institutions, McEwan makes do on an annual ‘wage’ of £1 million, plus a measly yearly bonus of that sum again, and a pension payment of £350,000. For a moment attempt to calculate how many poor families’ incomes need to be added up to match this staggering amount paid to just one human being.
The truth of the matter is that Scotland owes nothing to this bank, we have nothing in common with the personalities behind the bank, and its political entanglement ensures that it will always be a serious danger to Scotland and the Scottish economy. Okay, we have to concede that it does provide a valuable service and keeps a good many Scots in good, secure employment. Services and employment are, however, hardly a winning argument in light of the fact that its naughty financial behaviour – which is still ongoing (see cases before the regulator) – has put more people out of good, ‘secure’ employment than it as a corporation employs globally. One powerful incentive for rural Scotland to vote No to independence was the fear of losing banking services, which are a lifeline to many. Other than this being nothing other than common blackmail, it was also hokum.
The Royal Bank of Scotland, under the guidance of multi-millionaire McEwan, had plans in the pipeline for rural branch closures before the referendum. Both Hampton and McEwan announced not just the closure of branches in rural areas, but a retreat from the high-street in general, at the bank’s annual meeting (June 25) earlier this year. A Yes vote was simply going to be used as the excuse presented to the Scottish public for measures the bank has decided to take as a result of its chaotic practices. What we are dealing with in the Royal Bank of Scotland is another powerful tool of the Westminster establishment, and the longer we permit it to be an influence over Scottish opinion the longer it will be before we see a fair deal for Scotland.
– Butterfly Rebellion