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Since the early 19th century, Scottish banks had a reputation for ethical and sound banking, stemming from the 1825-6 banking crisis when 61 English banks failed, triggering a worldwide crisis. But Scottish banks, which were organised along join-stock principles, came through this crisis unscathed. Scottish bankers even had to pass a Banking Qualification that maintained the high standards and levels of trust.
Then neoliberal ideology took over in the late-1970s. Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Big Bang’ eliminated banking regulations and allowed banks to operate as private companies with the sole objective of maximising profits. Any consideration of the public good or national interest was tossed aside.
We know what happened to RBS. Fred Goodwin led the bank to a spectacular collapse in October 2008. The government bailed it out and took it over. Thousands of businesses and people lost money. The bank has never recovered.
After the crisis, the government set minimal banking regulations, but many warned they didn’t go far enough and that another financial crisis was likely.
The global financial system is teetering and Hunt foolishly believes that by stripping away regulations he’ll revive the Brexit-induced sagging fortunes of the City of London, a global centre for money laundering. Enriching the banking oligarchs is what this government prioritises.
Meanwhile, Scots are freezing and banks and energy companies are profiteering. The way to restore sanity is for Scotland to restore its sovereignty.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh
Short-term lets not just for holidays
Arguments against short-term “holiday” lets rarely seem to take into account that anyone moving for work from one part of Scotland to another cannot just leap into a long-term tenancy, no matter how many are available.
Viewings to assess suitability of the area, and the flat itself within the price bracket, take time, as does the financial checks and references from previous landlords that need to be carried out by the letting agents. So where are the prospective tenants and their families going to stay during this period? Expensive city centre hotels?
Where are the care workers recruited from outside Scotland by nursing homes to fill gaps in demand going to stay while more permanent accommodation is found for them?
Where are tenants and home owners going to go when their homes are in need of repair due to flooding etc.?
Short-term "holiday” lets provide an essential lifeline in these situations.
They are also much used by engineers carrying out essential repairs to infrastructure, such as electricity pylons damaged by gales. And of course, by Festival performers, as well as one-offs like COP26 delegates forced to commute from Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy because of lack of short-term accommodation in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Trevor Smith, St Andrews
Today we received a Christmas card from an elderly couple (former colleagues of my wife). Inside was the written message: “Old age doesn't come on its own.” The next card we opened was from the same couple.
Jim C Wilson, Gullane
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