Jeremy Warner: Remember the knights who were after HBOS?


Outlook One of the joys of financial crises is that they are great levellers. They make fools of even the most arrogant and pompous of financiers. So take heart from the two Scottish bankers who, puffed up with their own sense of self importance, who thought the Lloyds TSB takeover of HBOS such a bad deal for Scotland that they boldly announced they were drumming up financial support for a counter.

The two bankers in question were Sir George Mathewson and Sir Peter Burt, former chairman and chief executive respectively of Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland. They wanted to rescue HBOS, which includes the Bank of Scotland franchise, for the Scottish nation, and were determined to thwart the English invaders. Even at the time, their plan looked like fantasy. Today, it seems symptomatic of pre-senile dementia.

It is hard to ignore the fact that the two most rotten banks in the land have turned out to be Scotland's finest. Without English support, they would have ended up sinking the entire country, much like Iceland, which Scottish nationalists once used to cite as a prime example of how small countries can thrive independently of larger ones. Yet the two Scottish knights couldn't have known any better. The hubristic folly of RBS and HBOS began under their watch. Their fantasy bid was only true to the form that helped create this great banking nemesis in the first place.

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