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Going out with a whimper

Brian Taylor | 14:07 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Is that it then? No more a bank, just a whimper.

Three hundred years of Scottish financial history brought to a stammering close in a Birmingham convention centre.

That is indeed one way of looking at developments. More prosaically, one might say that the Bank of Scotland vanished as a distinct entity when it chose to merge with the erstwhile building society from Halifax.

More bluntly still, one might say that the centuries-old solidity that was the Bank has not been seen these many years amid the new era adventurism that has now so dismally failed.

Instead of striding the waves, the buccaneers of finance are lying, limp and plaintive, on the rocks.

To the point, Scotland has lost a headquarters organisation, albeit one whose sense of Scottish control had already been diluted. That is to be regretted; the full impact yet to be witnessed.

However, perhaps we might take a lead from the first minister who, while arguing for a level playing field with regard to HBOS, has repeatedly stressed the honourable intent and history of Lloyds TSB.

Perhaps we might take comfort from the announcement that the Bank of Scotland brand is to be retained; a shell, perhaps, but still an outward sign.

Perhaps it might now be feasible to mount a renewed case for the retention of some headquarters-style functions in Edinburgh.

Perhaps. Perhaps this was all inevitable. Perhaps there was, literally, no alternative. Perhaps the merged bank will, ultimately, thrive.

One can but hope.


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