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Notable stramash

Brian Taylor | 13:39 UK time, Monday, 4 February 2008

Do we need a modern day Sir Walter Scott?

In literary terms, I’m more than content with the original, regarding his best novels (Mortality, Midlothian, Antiquary etc) as among the finest works in European writing.

But the revived stramash over the supposedly perilous prospects for Scottish bank notes reminded me once more of the role played by the sage of Abbotsford in Scotland’s public life.

Sir Walter it was who launched a stout defence of Scottish bank notes when they previously came under threat in 1826.

After banking failures in England, it was proposed to remedy matters by barring private banks from issuing small value notes.

Scott penned and published the Letters of Malachi Malagrowther, arguing that the banking system in Scotland was in fine fettle, that it was heavily reliant upon paper currency transactions - and that it would be unjust to penalise Scottish banks for failings elsewhere.

Sir Walter won - and his image still features on Bank of Scotland notes in tribute both to his literary genius and his efforts on behalf of the Scottish financial sector.

Not sure whether Alistair Darling is a fan of Sir Walter. But, when it comes to bank notes, I suspect he will instinctively follow Malachi Malagrowther’s advice and leave well alone.


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