Tiddler scotches opportunistic carpetbaggers

City Diary

The idea of "carpetbaggers" who put small amounts of money into lots of different building societies in the hope that they will receive a cash windfall when the societies convert into banks is well known.

But it has taken Scottish Building Society to turn it into a nationalist issue. The Edinburgh-based society, which has 20,000 customers and pounds 100m in assets - a tiddler compared, say,with Nationwide - says it "has closed its doors to would-be carpetbaggers from south of the border opening small accounts in the hope of gaining a bonus in the event of the Society converting to a plc or being taken over".

Furthermore, the society's chairman is Peter Brown, the former Scottish rugby captain who led Scotland to three famous victories over England. Mr Brown declared: "We may be a relatively small society but we are financially very strong and our real members would be appalled if we were to convert or be taken over. To paraphrase the words of the Flower of Scotland we are "sending this army of speculators homeward tae think again".

Scottish Building Society is one of five that have thrown out customer activist Michael Hardern as a member. So far he has joined 52 societies.

Mr Hardern, a freelance butler, founded a group called "Members for Conversion" last year to try to persuade societies to ditch mutuality, thereby triggering bonuses. Yesterday Mr Hardern said he had also been chucked out of Norwich & Peterborough, National Counties, Portman and Market Harborough. "I'm going to exhaust their internal complaints procedures before I go to the Building Society Ombudsman," he warned last night. Under the rules he needs to persuade only 100 members of each society to petition for a "special general meeting", and he can then force the board to explain why they don't want to convert and trigger the payouts.

A spokesman for tScottish Building Society described this attitude yesterday as "quite stupid ... it is disturbing and expensive. There's no way we could afford to convert."

Congratulations to Will Hutton, the popular newly-elevated editor of the Observer, who committed his very first round of sackings on Monday. But hang on a minute - whatever happened to the caring, sharing philosophy espoused in his best-seller, The State We're In? Isn't this exactly the kind of beastly capitalist behaviour he deplores? Whatever, it suggests a new slant perhaps on what a "stakeholder" economy is: you risk getting one between the shoulder blades.

Lille, hosting the G7 jobs summit this week, has been keen to tell the world's press about the merits of its surrounding region, Nord Pas de Calais. Its information pack suffers a little in the translation: "Population: dense and young". This does not mean the place is full of Gallic Beavis and Buttheads. What it means is that the area has 319 inhabitants packed into each square kilometre, of whom 38 per cent are under 25.

The American delegates to the Lille summit expressed concern yesterday that many of the new jobs produced by their economy recently were of the low quality "burger-flipping" variety. Apparently the latest Washington joke goes: "Bill Clinton has created 8.4 million jobs - and I've got three of them."

The people who insure your racehorses can now insure your house and your family jewellery as well. Charles Hamilton is joining the board of the British Bloodstock Agency to beef up its insurance side, which started off when customers needed to insure the horses they were buying and selling. Mr Hamilton, 41, who will remain managing director of bloodstock broker Bradstock Hamilton, said: "It's like estate agents snaffling house buyers for mortgages, and then expanding into the mortgage business in its own right. We can insure the other possessions of horse owners - the farm, the wife's jewellery. We are also using the client list to sell other products." Direct Line can relax, however. There are no plans to sell insurance by phone.

Suggested Topics
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it