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By G.A.Ponsonby

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling was in the headlines yesterday after calling First Minister Alex Salmond a “complete fool”.

The senior Labour MP was referring to the SNP leader’s judgement after Mr Salmond indicated his support for the RBS takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro back in 2007.

Speaking at the Aye Write literary festival, Mr Darling, who replaced Gordon Brown as head of the UK Treasury in June of the same year, said:

“This is the man who wrote to RBS saying he had looked at the deal with ABN Amro and was confident it was good for Scotland.

“Well, if he honestly thought it was good for Scotland, he’s a complete fool because it brought the entire RBS edifice crashing down.  So, he does get judgment calls wrong.”

In 2007 Mr Salmond had written to former Chief Executive of the RBS Group Fred Goodwin wishing him good luck in the organisation’s bid for Dutch bank ABM Amro, which at the time was seen as a sound business move.

RBS were competing with Barclays Bank who was also after ownership of the Dutch bank and who looked like the likely victors until RBS stepped in with a better offer.

In October 2007, Barclay’s conceded defeat and the consortium that included RBS, Fortis Bank and Banco Santander announced the formal acquisition of the Dutch bank.

The acquisition of ABN Amro caused severe problems for RBS when the credit crunch hit just when the banks reserves were depleted.  The financial collapse exposed ABN Amro’s debts and the UK Government was forced to borrow £billions in order to bail RBS, and other UK banks, out.

Fred Goodwin lost his knighthood as a result and the term “Scottish banks” was born.  Previously well respected UK institutions contributing billions to the UK Treasury, RBS along with HBOS, were now Scottish outcasts.

Barclays’ rival bid for ABN Amro is now widely forgotten as is the identity of the man who led their transaction team.

The ‘mystery’ figure who led the Barclay’s group’s bid to acquire ABN Amro was one Naguib Kheraj.

Kheraj, was Barclay’s former finance director, who was paid £600,000 a month to stay on for eight months to lead the Barclays’ team in its bid for ABN Amro.  The aborted bid netted Kheraj a cool £5 million.

According to Alistair Darling, Mr Kheraj is apparently a complete fool for believing a takeover of ABN Amro was a good thing.

Readers will be surprised therefore to learn that within months of the failed Barclays’ bid, high flyer Kheraj was recruited on an undisclosed retainer as a special adviser to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The FSA is of course appointed by the UK Treasury which is ultimately controlled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  At the time of Mr Kheraj’s appointment to his advisory role in April 2008, the Chancellor was none other than Alistair Darling.

Mr Kheraj’s role was to advise on reforms to banking regulation after the collapse of now long forgotten English bank, Northern Rock.

But what of Mr Kheraj’s role in Barclay’s aborted bid to purchase ABM Amro only months earlier?

Well the FSA appeared to believe that this was something to be proud of.  For on their official announcement of Kheraj’s appointment they wrote:

“Kheraj has held numerous senior roles within financial services.  During 2007 Kheraj led the transaction team working on Barclays’ proposed merger with ABN Amro and significant investments in Barclays made by Temasek and China Development Bank.”

Speaking at the time FSA Chief Executive Hector Sants said: “We are fortunate to have access to the valuable industry perspective Naguib, as a senior banker of many years’ experience, will bring to the FSA.

“His insight and understanding of financial services will be invaluable to the newly created SEP team as they begin their task of strengthening our supervisory process.

“A successful regulator has to seek constantly to learn, change and improve, skills which Naguib has amply demonstrated over his long and distinguished career.”

So, using Alistair Darling’s own definition of the phrase, he, and others in his charge, presided over the appointment of a “complete fool” in order to help implement the UK’s banking regulation.

But Darling’s respect for Mr Kheraj’s abilities went even further.  For in 2008 Kheraj was one of a handful of hand-picked informal network of advisers who devised a plan for the UK Government to take a direct stake in UK banks.

On 3 November 2008 The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the advice of this group, announced that a new commercial company – UK Financial Investments Ltd – would manage the UK Government’s shareholding in banks subscribing to its recapitalisation fund.

Of course, neither Alex Salmond nor Naguib Kheraj are complete fools for their belief that the purchase of ABN Amro was a good move.  The acquisition of ABN Amro was widely thought to have been a good business decision, that’s why Kheraj was competing with Goodwin’s consortium.

It’s also why Alistair Darling signed off the ABN Amro deal and why his Labour Government, prompted by one Jack McConnell, decided to knight Fred Goodwin and why Darling sought Goodwin’s advice on banking. 

It’s also presumably why when consulting with UK officials, including Darling, at the time of the ABN takeover bid on their plans to develop links with a Chinese bank, that Barclay’s were not advised to drop their plans to up their ABN bid using Asian investor money.

However the story doesn’t end there.  For the recent scandal over Barclay’s unpaid tax bill uncovered another aspect of Mr Kheraj’s CV.

Last month it emerged Barclays Bank had used two schemes in order to avoid paying half a billion pounds in tax to the UK treasury.  The scam resulted in a new law against corporate tax dodging that will be announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the budget later this month.

But Barclay’s reputation for tax avoidance isn’t new, it was apparently known as far back as 2009.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Barclays Bank was said by some industry insiders to have been Britain’s most active legal tax avoider operating not two, but five tax avoidance ploys.

One of these involved Barclays’ personal customer’s accounts.  UK tax inspectors estimated that holders of 20% of those accounts were dodging tax worth up to £1.5bn, Barclays were forced to hand over details of these accounts.

This lucrative private banking arm, known now as Barclays Wealth, was run by the aforementioned Naguib Keraj until 2004.

Following Kheraj’s departure in 2007, he was appointed by HMRC’s Dave Hartnett as an adviser to HMRC itself.  He is listed on official Government documents in 2008, although by then on his small ‘biog’ there is no mention of his once proud role as leader of the Barclay’s failed bid for ABN Amro.

Such was the extent of Barclays’ tax avoidance that until early 2009, according to insiders, the company had an informal agreement with HMRC to divulge all its schemes, in return for inspectors challenging only a small proportion of them.

Something that might surprise supporters of Glasgow Rangers who are now being pursued, it seems to the death, for a sum that is but a grain of sand to the vast desert of real tax avoidance.

So, this one time pursuer of ABN Amro, became a close adviser to Alistair Darling, an adviser to the Financial Services Authority and an adviser to HMRC.

A “complete fool”? Of course not.  However, here’s how Kheraj described himself in October 2005 – just two years before joining HMRC and less than two and a half years before advising the FSA and Darling:

“I was clearly very financially literate. I knew a lot about funding and how to perform financial analysis and strategy and planning.  I didn’t know much about controls and regulation and the IT required in financial reporting and I didn’t know much about managing tax risk, so I had to learn all of those on the job.  Actually, it was a lot more complicated than I ever thought.  I hadn’t thought enough about these things,’ Kheraj admits.

“…I think arbitrary changes to tax or regulation could result in the UK being a less competitive place to locate important parts of the financial services industry.  The government understands that it is in the country’s interest to have strong and profitable banks,”

Alistair Darling achieved his headline yesterday and the Scottish media had an excuse to have a go at Alex Salmond using the ABN Amro takeover.

How many will report on Mr Darling’s real views on people who thought the acquisition of ABN Amro a good idea?


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# tom 2012-03-13 08:24
Sorry. Completely off message. Clicked for contribution details. Paypal never works for me. Can’t commit to a monthly contribution for personal reasons. Would like to make occasional one-off contributions when in funds. Living abroad I need name of bank, ISBN and Swift numbers. Please.
# The_Duke 2012-03-13 08:34
I too have made donation. Thank you very much for the hard work you all put in.
# govanite 2012-03-13 08:44
Slowly the truth slips out.

Also, I see Brian Currie at the Herald is trying to put a union jack on Peter Fraser’s comments – the man who yesterday said the end of the Union is inevitable.
‘English will bomb our airports’. Ha Ha Ha, desperate stuff. These are our neighbours ???
# Ready to Start 2012-03-13 09:31
Quoting govanite:
Slowly the truth slips out.

Also, I see Brian Currie at the Herald is trying to put a union jack on Peter Fraser’s comments – the man who yesterday said the end of the Union is inevitable.
‘English will bomb our airports’. Ha Ha Ha, desperate stuff. These are our neighbours ???

This the same Peter Fraser who botched the prosecution of Megrahi and brought Scottish justice into disrepute
# Lanarkshire ED 2012-03-13 12:12
Hi all.

Firstly, I’ve been reading Newsnet Scotland for well over a year now. I feel like many of you are old friends. I’d like to thank Newsnet and the many posters for educating me to the stories behind those reported by the biased MSM.

Still O/T (but in line with these few comments above), what has prompted me to sign in and register for the first time is this “English will bomb our airports” story in the Herald. It only seems to be available on my mobile device, not the main online paper.

I’ve not seen any other comments from many of the usual suspects. Is it just too silly?

To assist, the article can be reached at:…/…

Jeees! This must be one of the more unbelievable scare stories yet but might just push my old mum over the edge to vote No, come 2014 as she lives on a Glasgow Airport flight path.

Peter Fraser, who as his own web site states: “had ultimate responsibility for the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie investigation”, seems to be trying very hard to divert attention from todays main Herald headline regarding “Lockerbie Revealed: The secret report that damns Scottish justice”. Then again, perhaps he was simply “suffering” as the same way back in 2006 during his flight to Dundee? (I like the BBC’s take on his Dundee escapade:…/6197575.stm. To paraphrase, “Drunk guy supports Scottish independence. LOL!)

Mr. Kavanagh, I think this might be one for you “Myths” list! But gosh, perhaps it MIGHT happen!

But seriously, it’s silly atricles like this “English Bombing our Airports” crap that will play to those less informed and the many frightened people like my old mum. The SNP needs to squish stories like this fast as I’m afraid forums like this won’t be enough.

Any thoughts?

# oldnat 2012-03-13 14:36
# chicmac 2012-03-14 00:26
Oh dear, the poor chap does seem to be a little confused, only the other day he was adamant:…/…

I think it is long past time that it is admitted that the ‘Lords’ simply stands for Loopy Old Retainers with Dementia Syndrome.
# rapid 2012-03-13 08:47
Interesting that the partners that bought abn amro have both been almost sunk by abn’s bad debts: rbsg and fortis.

However, the article is incorrect to suggest that everyone thought it was a good deal. Fred the shred sacked many credit directors (was it 3 in a row?) during the run up to the abn acquisition and many at the bank knew that the acquisition was extremely aggressive and being done with little or no due diligence.

People are also forgetting that in the months before abn, fred bought a large stake in one of China’s banks which turned out to be a better investment…
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-13 09:04
You took it from my keyboard rapid.

Ah the glorious time of all boom and no bust!

Not that the second worst Chancellor of the Exchequer needs a reason to call Alex names. Actually is the only thing left to the poor thing, as the winner took all the dinner speeches.

Even the Herald recognizes it. At close of business yesterday the comments were against the black caterpillar by 10 to 1.

By the by, The Herald have had a glimpse in the “secret” Megrahi dossier…/…
# pmcrek 2012-03-13 08:59
One word for Mr Darling, “Iraq”.
# Suomi 2012-03-13 09:01
Interesting since I have a daughter (living in Holland) who banks with with ABN Amro.Seems like a nice bank that offers loans and a range of services.Is it in trouble and does RBS still own it?
# pmcrek 2012-03-13 09:13
I think the Dutch side of it was bought by Fortis, who before the bankpocalypse were one of the largest businesses in the world. All of their concerns in Holland were to still carry then name ABN-AMRO.

The Dutch and Belgian Governments stepped in and nationalised them during the crisis, so anything branded ABN-AMRO in Holland/Belgium now are still part of the now nationalised group Fortis.

Santander got ABN-AMRO’s banking concerns in Brazil I think and RBS got their Asian division or wholesale.

Hilariously, Barcleys themselves only escaped being involved in the takeover consortium, simply because they were outbid.
# pmcrek 2012-03-13 09:21
Just checking on wiki, seems the Dutch Government rearranged Fortis retail banking arm then ABN-AMRO into a seperate holding called ABN AMRO Bank N.V, so I think they are seperate from Fortis now but still owned by Dutch taxpayers.

Apparently the assets in Holland owned by RBS were “demerged” from the DUtch nationalised side and renamed The Royal Bank of Scotland N.V.
# Displaced Patriot 2012-03-13 09:05
quelle Surpise a Labour man telling lies
# UpSpake 2012-03-13 09:08
Lawyers make for excellent experienced and competent Chancellors, so do History graduates.
# Dowanhill 2012-03-13 09:14
Been complaining about aspects relating too this very subject to the bbc since Febuary without yet, a proper explaination. Finally sent off an e-mail to the bbc Director General, and cc’d in Ken McQuarrie. Still no response from bbc – Is there an e-mail address for Chris Paton???
# twinpowr 2012-03-13 09:15
I think we all know who the fool is. A fool that pulled the wool over or eyes. at lest for a short while. Alistair Cameron or is it David Darling, i cant figure where one end and the other begins. we must expose all of their lies and half truths for what they are, and stories like this, we must ensure are rebuttled as quickly as possible.
# frankyB 2012-03-13 09:32
Should we all email this article direct to him at:

what fun we’d have!
# Maryston4 2012-03-13 10:13
Quoting frankyB:
Should we all email this article direct to him at:

what fun we’d have!

You mean purely as a humanitarian gesture? To help the poor chap with his (obviously) debilitating memory loss issues.

I’m sure he’d appreciate that and I’m happy to help.

And have done.
# dundie 2012-03-13 12:41
Just did so, and copied to Jim McGovern, my local unionist, for his response too. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting.
# Dowanhill 2012-03-13 09:41
O/T – Just listening too Alex Niel’s visionary response in supplying water to England with new technologies to Haley Millar’s interview question. This was tinged with a hint of outrage in Ms Millar’s voice that Scotland would have the odacity to charge England, only to be followed by a ‘drivel with Kay ‘interlude and a fippant quip of ‘who’s water is it?, who’s oil is it? Who’s wind is it….? This is blatant and constant undermining of Scotlands ambitions. There now needs to be a seperate / devolved media comissioner in Scotland with seperate powers of re-course to ensure fairness and respect.
# Drew1314 2012-03-13 09:43

“English ‘would bomb our airports'”…/…

Lardy Fraser of Carmyllie
# MajorBloodnok 2012-03-13 10:15
Quoting Drew1314:

“English ‘would bomb our airports'”

Not on John Smeaton’s watch they won’t.
# pa_broon74 2012-03-13 16:57
Fraser of Carmyllie.

Taking sophistry to hitherto unexplored levels.

I mean, what a load of rubbish, its actually funny.
# Teri 2012-03-13 20:12
In the Times today, it says that Lardy Fraser is suggesting that Trident be relocated in Scapa Flow as Orkney and Shetland dont want to be part of an Independent Scotland but will remain in the UK. rUK’s royal navy would guard Trident in Scapa Flow!!!

I think Fraser has lost the plot. Where would the nuclear warheads be stored? Scapa Flow is full of sunken german boats. No rUK royal navy will be based off our coast.

The Lords are going from bad to worse.
# bigbuachaille 2012-03-13 22:32
Looks like the truth on Lockerbie is going to get out finally. This sort of idiot ‘story’ is all part of the diversionary tactics. What is the next load of nonsense that Fraser will bring to our notice when the real story is to be made public?
# Dowanhill 2012-03-13 10:01
Well, we have water, gas , oil and an abundance of renewable energy. British Government engaged in wars for a lot less.
# Fungus 2012-03-13 17:44
Aye but they used us to do the fighting.
# Blanco 2012-03-13 10:02
The big banks got in a bidding war for ABN just at the wrong time. I remember the bidding prices getting much higher than the initial valuation. Wonder how things would have turned out had Barclays won – would the government have to have bailed them out and only HBoS available for beating the SNP with?
# Mark MacLachlan 2012-03-13 10:18
Excellent break down. Suggest this is thrown at Darling and co each time the Salmond -Goodwin-ABN-Amro question raises its head.
# Summerdale1529 2012-03-13 10:22
What are Mr Kheraj’s actual qualifications?
It appears he is admitting to having little knowledge of banking regulation and tax systems so what is his background?
He seems to be one of a group of people that rose to the top of British banking with no actual background in banking.
Was it not the case that the men at the top of BOS/Halifax had a retail background (Asda?)and this seems to have contributed to the end of “traditional” banking and the start of the hard sell attitude where you could not enter a bank without someone trying to sell you a product or cold call bank customers at home.
# J Wil 2012-03-13 12:10
It all points to people who are not competent to handle some of the most important issues which affect citizens.

They seem able to continually get away with it because most of us are not informed or motivated enough to say or do anything about it. These are also the tactics used by politicans every day.
# truth 2012-03-13 10:44
The article is food for thought, but I’m not sure I agree with it’s basic premise.

RBS and Barclays were motivated by entirely different desires. RBS only wanted ABN’s American bank La Salle and their investment banking and a few other parts. Barclays wanted the lot.

This is a vitally important distinction. Had the Barclays bid succeeded they would not necessarily have been in the same position as RBS. Just ask Santander the other consortium member who ended up with ABN’s exemplary and well performing Brazilian business and it’s not so bad Italian business. In addition, the sale by ABN of La Salle was a spoiler to put off RBS, so Barclays would have ended up with La Salle too.

While I agree Darling is himself a fool, most probably a liar, and not to be trusted, I cannot really agree with the direction of this article.

In addition the Rangers tax case may be involve a grain of sand, but it is effectively a test case on EBTs and the implications would be massive were HMRC to win.

Edit to add: It’s not just Northern Rock that has been forgotten about. Bradford and Bingley had all its toxic parts fully nationlised too.
# iReferee 2012-03-13 11:01
Off topic but apparently Scotland will be invaded by forces unknown upon independence and England will have to bomb our airports to protect themselves.…/…

This just gets crazier and crazier
# Robert Louis 2012-03-13 11:07
Be afraid, be very afraid. Woooooooo! The bogeyman will get you.
# edinburgh quine 2012-03-13 11:25
Oh pul-ee-zze is this man on some kind of hallucinogenic drugs, magic mushrooms, lsd…? He cant be serious and be expected to be taken seriously.

Come on SNP, admit it, you paid him to make that statement. It can be the only logical explanation surely
# dogcollar 2012-03-13 11:39
na mate it just shows how desperate the unionist camp are. Relax and enjoy.
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-13 12:07
Now, now; we can’t have it both ways. Either Scotland is an economic basket-case that no one would want to invade, or it’s so rich in natural resources that it would be in danger of invasion from every neighbouring country with WMDs.
# Legerwood 2012-03-13 14:09
That would be England then – neighbouring country with WMDs.
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-13 20:47
Damn. I knew there was a flaw in the logic somewhere 🙂
# J Wil 2012-03-13 12:17
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie has just invited what he deserves. Ridicule.
# John Souter 2012-03-13 11:22
By far the best piece of journalism I’ve seen in Newsnet.
# farrochie 2012-03-13 11:34
Mr Ponsonby, A good piece of investigation, sir! Alisdair Darling cuts a somewhat lonely and pathetic figure as a backbencher these days. Unprepared for his tv interviews, probably believing his former status will carry him through, he stumbles and blusters over his answers. The man who helped to lead the economy to its worst condition in 60 years deserves only derision for his comments on any banking matters.
# Maryston4 2012-03-13 12:10
We don’t have to ask why Darling would make these comments – same old Labour lies and obfuscation – but we should be asking why a ‘quality’ newspaper should allow them to be made without the columnist or her editor questioning their efficacy.
If they can’t think of the points to make or questions to ask, frankly, they shouldn’t be in post.
It’s the job of the free press in a democracy to question authority not to lick its hind quarters.
Does the Herald have a mission statement?
# Highland Tiger 2012-03-13 12:13
O/T If you thought Darling was being a fool, what is Lord Fraser of Carmyllie on?…/…

This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard yet from Westminster. Seriously, how does he think other countries in Europe manage to survive, I don’t hear any news about them getting invaded since they only have fishery protection vessels!
# Zed 2012-03-13 12:20
Great comment in the Herald which gave me a laugh.

“Lord Fraser of Carmyllie will end up as Lord Fraser of Cartsairs if he carries on like this.”
# dundie 2012-03-13 12:42
Unsubstantiated allegation removed – NNS Mod Team
# J Wil 2012-03-13 12:19
Darling seems like a one trick pony with his attack on Salmond based on one letter. One might ask, is that it?
# mato21 2012-03-13 12:37
Three lines is more of a note than a letter Would not merit a mention under any other circumstances or from any other person than A.Salmond
# tartanfever 2012-03-13 12:42
Yep thats it from him – it’s all he’s got to offer.

He sat in the heart of government for 10 years and was a key player in the downfall of our finance industry.He also moves house a lot to maximise on
his parliamentary expenses – four times in as many years I believe.…/……/……/…

And of course, here’s the man that had otethe biggest opportunity to stop the scandalous bankers bonuses – when the banks were on their knees and begging for the first thing he should have said was:

‘Yes we’ll bail you out, but on condition that you first return to your banks and tell every single employee that they have to sign away their bonuses first. Take it or leave it. Your people can keep their jobs or lose them’

End of problem.

But of course he didn’t. He didn’t even consider touching the bonuses.

Comment edited by NNS Mod Team
# tartanfever 2012-03-13 14:22
Sorry Mods – my mistake.

Ermm.. here’s some newspaper articles about Mr Darling’s expenses.…/……/……/…

Thank you – NNS Mod Team
# kennyb 2012-03-13 12:20
Its no surprise I know Kheraj from when he was made Finance Director at Salomon Brothers without a finance qualification to his name. He was in the corporate finance team and catapulted at a callow age over many better qualified people. His charmed life has bafflingly continued.

No knowledge of controls and systems? – that is because he is as qualified and experienced for the string of jobs he has been spirited into as he is at open heart surgery.

This is the “talent” we are so scared to lose if we reign in bonuses and silly pay awards. I say let them go to Frankfurt, Tokyo, Paris or New York and wreak their havoc while we repair our damaged financial sector.
# balgayboy 2012-03-13 13:18
Bye the way it was not the UK tax payer that bailed the UK banks , it was the International banks that UK borrowed money on , solely dependant on the assets of “North Sea Oil” Mr Darling hang your head in shame. Roll on 2014
# Marga B 2012-03-13 14:31
I worry a bit about that – has the UK government pawned or committed future revenue from NSO in some way against national debt?
# Dowanhill 2012-03-13 13:21
According the defence secretary Philip Hammond, isn’t Scotland to bear the costs of the removal of Trident. So not only are we to pay for the re-siting and housing of the Vanguard submarine fleet, we will now be bomb for the privalidge of doing so.

Now, How many more members have joined the SNP since this morning?
# Dowanhill 2012-03-13 13:24
Herald letters page should be good tommorrow?
# Rafiki 2012-03-13 13:34
With the level of judgment shown by Alistair Darling surely he should be elevated to the Upper House as soon as possible?
Lord Darling of Dissemble?
# Old Smokey 2012-03-13 13:56
Slighty O/T
‘Labour proposes Buckfast ban as alternative to minimum pricing…/…

What have the Monks of Buckfast Abbey ever done to Labour to deserve this attention?
Labour are complete idiots on this, they blaim high levels of caffeine in the drink.
So by that same token they should also ban ‘Red Bull’ [caffeine content of a single can of Red Bull is 80 mg/250 ml], caffeine content in Buckfast is around 90 mg/250 ml, it also contains 15% Alcohol. However Red Bull is usually mixed with 43% proof Alcohol as a drink of choice.
What Labour just cant grasp is the fact that its not the caffiene content in drinks that affect people (it does effect people), but it the alcohol mixure. Take away Buckfast and you still have kids binging on Cider and Vodka, with the latter being mixed with Red Bull.
Labour’s continueing attack on Buckfast is down purely being seen by Labour as some kind of ‘common man/ wifey up the close’ populous ideal. The reality is, Labour are not contributing ANYTHING to the over indulgence of alcohol
# Robert Louis 2012-03-13 16:53
Quoting Old Smokey:
Slighty O/T
‘Labour proposes Buckfast ban as alternative to minimum pricing…/…

What have the Monks of Buckfast Abbey ever done to Labour to deserve this attention?
Labour are complete idiots on this, they blaim high levels of caffeine in the drink.
So by that same token they should also ban ‘Red Bull’ [caffeine content of a single can of Red Bull is 80 mg/250 ml], caffeine content in Buckfast is around 90 mg/250 ml, it also contains 15% Alcohol. However Red Bull is usually mixed with 43% proof Alcohol as a drink of choice.
What Labour just cant grasp is the fact that its not the caffiene content in drinks that affect people (it does effect people), but it the alcohol mixure. Take away Buckfast and you still have kids binging on Cider and Vodka, with the latter being mixed with Red Bull.
Labour’s continueing attack on Buckfast is down purely being seen by Labour as some kind of ‘common man/ wifey up the close’ populous ideal. The reality is, Labour are not contributing ANYTHING to the over indulgence of alcohol

Is this groundhog day??


Labour have ben threatened with legal action several times by the producers of Buckfast.

Seriously, I do hope the producers of buckfast act this time. This rubbish by the Labour party about caffeine has been going on for too long.

Do Labour have NO IDEA how stupid they are looking starting to bang on about caffeine yet again? Seriously, did they learn nothing from May 2011??

The nonsense being spouted by Labour and Richard Simpson on this topic is seriously, seriously cloud cuckoo land stuff.

How freaking bizarre. Labour really have lost the grip on reality.
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 17:05
Have nae fear—-Darling is cummin tae the rescue.
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 14:17
Old Smokey.Ban Buckfast?
It’ll be Ban the Bomb next!

Sorreeee—they(the members) were in favour of that once,when principles were at the top of their list.

So long ago.
# Legerwood 2012-03-13 14:20
The letter Mr Salmond wrote was 3 sentences long. Here is the text of the letter which CH4 published on its web site when it covered this issue some months ago.

I wanted you to know that I am watching events closely on the ABN front. It is in Scottish interests for RBS to be successful, and I would like to offer any assistance my office can provide. Good luck with the bid.

To say Mr Darling has over-interpreted it and put the worst possible construction on what was really just a statement of the obvious i.e RBS’ success was important for Scotland and the UK.

RBS and its partners came late to the takeover of ABN and did not carry out due diligence. If they had they might have found out about ABNs exposure to sub-prime etc. Many commentators at the time were advising RBS not to bid for ABN but to concentrate on consolidating the businesses it had already taken over. But they were ignored and the rest as they say is history.

You can see the letter here:…/…

O/T but also on the CH4 news website is an interesting article about Rangers tax problems by Alex Thomson…/850

O/T 2 Herald has front page story on Megrahi trial and SCCR report which the Herald has apparently seen.
# Marga B 2012-03-13 14:35
It seems everyone has seen this report except for ordinary citizens and tax payers. Makes you realise where the real power lies and who the laws are meant to keep in their place!
# cirsium 2012-03-13 16:45
legerwood “ RBS and its partners came late to the takeover of ABN and did not carry out due diligence. If they had they might have found out about ABNs exposure to sub-prime etc.” Given the heavy involvement of RBS in the US subprime market, it would not have been a red flag issue for Mr Goodwin. The issue was the toxic derivatives.…/
OT could there at last be action taken against hbos?…/
# Legerwood 2012-03-13 18:38
Thank you. I could not remember if it was the sub-prime or derivatives but knew it was one of the two. Either way RBS biought a pig in a poke.
# Talorcan 2012-03-13 14:33
Dundonian West. ”Principals…at the top of their list.” I’m pretty sure you meant ‘principles’. {:-)
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 17:13
Absolutely right.Thanks.
# Marga B 2012-03-13 14:44
O/T but talking about the Herald, there’s a blog by Andy Wightman about Crown Estate behaviour in Stirling, which also includes this interesting news:

“The Crown Estate in Scotland is currently the focus of intense political debate and next week, the Scottish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons will publish their long-awaited report on the subject.” One to look out for.

The article:…/…

“With such uncertainty over the future of the Crown Estate in Scotland, why has the CEC been allowed to get away with selling Scotland’s most ancient Royal Park for £1 million?”
# MajorBloodnok 2012-03-13 15:48
Didn’t know about this occuring in Stirling (when you wrote CEC – I was thinking City of Edinburgh Council??).

The Crown Estate of course controls the forshore below the mean high water mark and the seabed out to 12 nautical miles. Extremely important for offshore renewables revenues and that is why the Scottish Government has been asking for control of this for some time now. Of course in an Independent Scotland it’d be ours anyway!
# art1001 2012-03-13 19:17
I think the SNP should state that any Crown Estate property sold off without specific SG approval would be nationalised/confiscated after independence. That should frighten any prospective buyers off.
# EphemeralDeception 2012-03-14 08:24
Thanks Marga. The story also states:

“They also wanted to know why the Stirling Common Good Fund, a reserve established for the benefit of the community, was being raided to pay for this. The community came up with an imaginative alternative proposal that would restore this historic landscape as part of the wider restoration of Stirling Castle, but both the Secretary of Scotland (Jim Murphy) and the Scottish Government refused to get drawn into the argument.”

So don’t anyone hold their breath waiting for the Scottish Government to do anything.

I have stated elsewere on here that the SG record on land reform and land matters, especially to correct historic wrongs, is very poor.

The CEC is a prime example and it took Andy and others to get it onto the agenda.
# Drew1314 2012-03-13 15:23
O/T Further to my comment above about Lard Carmyllie and his

“English would bomb our airports”…/…

and here:…/…

Whilst looking for history on the rather ignoble Lard I came across this seemingly seemingly innocuous article about his conduct back in December 2006 with a real sting in the tail:…/6197575.stm

Final paragraph:

“Lord Fraser has also backed the idea of an independent Scotland, writing in a Sunday newspaper recently that: “Scotland could certainly stand on its own two feet.” “
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 16:25
“Scotland could certainly stand on its own two feet.”
Spoken in 2006 !!!.

What a wasted six years until his leader,the P.M., spoke more or less the same words,only a few weeks ago–IN SCOTLAND.

What a terrible waste—-people struggling,debt agencies hammering at door,and so many other terrible hardships,—be off with you, Mr Darling,Labour;  Mr Brown,Labour; and Lord Fraser;Tory.
Nae difference,unti  l you want oor votes.

SNP for us.No one else is doing it.

I say again—just go!
# Legerwood 2012-03-13 18:39
“English would bomb our airports”

from the looks of things they have had a trial run on Princes Street
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 16:04
Re A Salmond.”This is the man who wrote to RBS saying he had looked at the deal with ABN Amro and was confident it was good for Scotland.
“Well, if he honestly thought it was good for Scotland, he’s a complete fool because it brought the entire RBS edifice crashing down. So, he does get judgment calls wrong.”

Oh! Chancellor Darling– Weren’t you the man,and Chancellor Brown,who spent the peoples’ money,into the deepest red,as if there was no to-morrow.
We’re still in a Labour cash mess,and will be for the next 10 years or more.

“So, he does get judgment calls wrong.”
Look in the mirror to-morrow morning,Mr Darling.

Alex Salmond is indeed a strong man,but even he hasn’t the FINANCIAL clout,(BILLIONS  ) you and Mr Brown exercised for 13 years.

# Triangular Ears 2012-03-13 16:27
Like I said in another thread, Labour managed to turn a £350bn national debt (that took over 300 years to accumulate) into trillions, to such an extent that there isn’t even a consensus any more as to just how high it is.

Meanwhile, they encouraged corporate and personal debt to go the same way through lax regulation, turning a blind eye to loan fraud (liar loans), and record low interest rates, simultaneously killing off saving and genuine investment.

The UK (along with others), indulged in economic time travel by spending revenues years into the future, yesterday. Now there’s the inevitable undershoot to compensate, meaning that spending will have to be far below what it would have organically grown to otherwise, just to stand still.
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 17:17
“The UK (along with others), indulged in economic time travel by spending revenues years into the future, yesterday”
It’s so bad we’re venturing into Donald Rumsfeld territory!
“Beam us up Scottie”.
# Legerwood 2012-03-13 16:29
You could also have added that Mr Salmond did not write to Fred Goodwin saying that he had looked at the deal. Mr Darling was being somewhat economical with the truth on that assertion.

The text of the letter is in my post above together with a link to a copy of the original.
# Dundonian West 2012-03-13 16:39
# I Say Yes 2012-03-13 16:59
Sorry – completely off topic but a wee bit good news doesn’t go amiss.…/…
# MajorBloodnok 2012-03-13 18:01
I enjoyed that clip. A bit like “How to Train Your Dragon”, which seemed to me to be a Scottish film as well. Wha’s like us!?
# Louperdowg 2012-03-13 17:42
Here’s something to cheer you up if you are feeling a bit down.

The Pro-Union forces are gearing up……/…

A Scottish Labour source made clear his party will be the main player in the umbrella campaign with the Tories playing something of a secondary role.

At Scottish Labour’s recent conference, Ms Lamont pointed out: “The skills of the Labour campaign will be leant to an all-party campaign when they are needed.”
# Legerwood 2012-03-13 18:37
The ‘skills of the labour campaign will be leant [loaned?] to…’

Would that be the ‘skills’ that lost labour the last three elections – two for Holyrood and one for Westminster?
# J Wil 2012-03-13 20:25
I am intrigued to hear what Charles Kennedy has to say. Wasn’t he to be leading the charge of the thin yellow line?
# FREEDOM1 2012-03-14 12:16
I am intrigued to hear what Charles Kennedy has to say. Wasn’t he to be leading the charge of the thin yellow line? Backed up by whats his name Hip Flask I think?
# Roll_On_2011 2012-03-13 17:44
In 1904 JM Barrie invents a character called Mr Darling who doesn’t believe in Never-never land.

In 2008 NuLabour invent a character called Mr Darling who puts the whole land on the never-never.
# Islegard 2012-03-13 17:44
Is this the “complete fool” who together with the other “complete fool” Brown caused the banking crisis. Not every countries banks had a crisis. It came down to how competant each nation’s government was financially. Unfortunately we had 2 successive “complete fool” chancellors who caused and inflammed the banking crisis.
# mealer 2012-03-13 18:15
Scotland will,hopefully,  be independent before the next Westminster election.So I assume the tories will be in charge until independence.Its surely unlikely a tory PM will elevate Darling to the Lords.Hahaha.
# Alathia 2012-03-13 18:51
Sorry O/T but has anyone noticed that the Torygraph has stopped allowing comments on any Scottish political story. Do they fear the dreaded cybernat pointing out a few truths…
# Robert Louis 2012-03-13 23:18
Certainly looks like it. Perhaps they do not want their readership to be told that their newspaper and Tory Prime minister is lying to them.

I never took Cpchrane as being a feartie. Then again, the anti independence parties are clutching at straws, I mean in what other modern westernised democracy, would a Government threaten to steal two pandas, partition another country and then Bomb civilian airports.

Is that what it means to be ‘British’ these days?
# J Wil 2012-03-13 20:34
Not completely O/T:

An interesting article on The One Show tonight, describing a mathematical function for disclosing fraudulent expenses submissions and other financial scams.

It depends on the frequency of distribution of the digits 1 to 9 appearing in a pile of expenses claims. The ones should appear most frequently and the nines the least. Any departure from the fitted curve gives the game away. Of course it’s named after the guy who discovered it, whose name escapes me already.
# Louperdowg 2012-03-13 22:28
Its the McCavity theory of accumulating returns.
# Islegard 2012-03-14 00:45
The Labour Party Theory of fraudulent expenses?
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-13 23:13
If you want to have a good laugh:…/…

I can’t believe we should be wiping our feet on the Union Jack by Jack Morrison.
# Robert Louis 2012-03-13 23:26
I saw a union flag doormat in a close in Glasgow once. You don’t need to go abroad to see such a thing.

What a nauseating article, that is in the Herald though, wittering on about the union flag. Is the author after a gong??
# cirsium 2012-03-14 00:21
and there was even an allusion to the Germans. What is it about the Union Jack and World War II?

OT good comment on banking at…/…
your bank – fiduciary or predator?
# govanite 2012-03-14 00:12
McConnell says vote Yes or eh, Yes.

Still Westminster’s wee man.
# Robert Louis 2012-03-14 00:24
Am I alone in thinking, maybe Jack had been to the strangers bar in Westminster before appearing on newsnight?

There was something quite odd in his mannerisms – and I’ve seen him interviewed many times.

Maybe he has a cold.

Anyway, his suggestions for the referendum question are just silly.
# Mark 2012-03-14 00:30
He was just trying not to laugh at us on live TV.
# Old Smokey 2012-03-14 01:11
I also thought he was a bit strange, well stranger than normal!
He came accross as a complete idiot, waving his hands about likes some pupeteer that forgot to put the glove puppets on. He also seemed to be trying to impress someone (as in having been told to push himself more). End result though is a sigh of releif as he is bundled back into his box and locked away for another day and releif that he is no longer in Holyrood
# J Wil 2012-03-14 08:01
McConnell, the epitomy of reasonableness?

He looked as though he hadn’t shaved as well. Disgusting really!
# J Wil 2012-03-14 00:25
BBC Scoltand 2nd in the queue again for their political interviewees.

McConnell’s compromise was just a rehash of the unionist position. I just hope when the judgements are made on the results of the consultation that the views of people like McConnell are not weighted in his favour.

The STV Politics Tonight programme was able to give a balanced view by having the SNP minister linked into the studio, as well as McConnell, but BBC Scotland did not see the need to have the SNP view. No surprises there then!
# Mark 2012-03-14 00:27
McConnell was on Newsnigh on BBC but, there was no one from independent camp.
It seems we only needed to hear the opinion of an unelected member of house of lords on independence.
# J Wil 2012-03-14 00:29
Never mind, Brewer gave him his fool (sic) title.
# Islegard 2012-03-14 00:42
Let him make the most of his Mickey Mouse title in 2 and a half years he will be lard of FA.
# chicmac 2012-03-14 00:28
One of Newsnet Scotland’s most important articles ever. Remember to share and twitter.
# govanite 2012-03-14 00:41
What I find particularly disingenuous [and indeed illogical] about McConnell’s position and also that of his fellow unionists in the No camp is that they will not say what the terms of membership of the United Kingdom will be.

People cannot vote for the unionist argument if they don’t know what it means.
The referendum is too important to be turned into a game show by unionists, we cannot turn down the tangible prize before us for the ‘thing’ in the closed box.
# SHANGHAI SCOT 2012-03-14 00:44
O/T Alan Chochran in the Telegraph blasting labour on the oposition to the minimum pricing policy, in a way he is praising the SNP initiative and Nicola in particular.
# J Wil 2012-03-14 07:58
Inadvertently of course.
# rog_rocks 2012-03-14 01:02
“Protest Set For Prime Minister’s Visit To Troon”…/…

Anyone looking for something to do on March 24th?

HUNDREDS of youths will descend on Troon to protest against Prime Minister David Cameron.
# Old Smokey 2012-03-14 01:17
Talking slightly O/T of Newsnight, last night. Not sure if anyone caught the drivel with Kirsty Wark on pensions. The remark she came out with that the UK government will have to consider what tos do (in terms of paying for pensions) seen that the Oil is running out.
So Kirsty Wark is stating that Scotlands Oil is paying for the state pension, but its about to run out. Well its these little through away lines that make you wonder, dont worry Kirsty, for England the Oil IS running out, I would say in 2 years time
# Islegard 2012-03-14 03:19
O/T In “bwitains” special needs relationship with America which only bwitain is aware of. I wonder if on the discussion menu was Scotland?

Obama: So Dave how will you pay £25 billion on Trident, £23 billion on fighter aircraft, £8 billion on Aircraft Carriers, continued billions on supporting US war efforts if you loose Scotland?

Oh sh*t man you wont be able to honour those contracts and we will be short of billions!!!! Can we help you stop Scottish Independence?

David who? The special relationship (needs)guy!!!
# J Wil 2012-03-14 08:11
We hear the likes of McConnell trying to bat the possibility of the extention of powers for the Scotttish Parliament into the long grass until after the referendum, but no interviewer has asked a unionist how the people can trust Westminster to deliver more powers if the referendum answer is NO to independence. They all skirt around it, like Brewer did last night, but never actually put the unionists on the spot over it. It comes down to a question of trust or lack of it.

McConnell himself answered the question indirectly when he said we could think about it after asking the main question and have referenda (ad infinitum). It is difficult enough, it seems, to have the forthcoming referendum. It would be impossible to have any more with a unionist government in charge of things.
# mountaincadre 2012-03-14 08:18
Agreed JWIL but the lack of answers from him and any other unionist politcion only confirms that there is no reason that they should be trusted.
# UpSpake 2012-03-14 09:24
Old Smokey. Yes, I heard it too but did you not also notice that they were talking, as do so many commentators, of planning for the next 50 years without taking into consideration the absense of Scotland from the equation ?.
Same with the BBC, planning their ‘Charter’ for 2016 and beyond. This ‘foreign’ country of Scotland would no longer be paying their license fee/tax therefore their writ wouldn’t run here any more and they would have to revert to type calling themselves the English Broadcasting Corporation which is just what they are now.
# gfaetheblock 2012-03-14 11:19
So couple of points I would challenge.

Many commentator at the time thought that RBS were overpaying for a bank that had jettisoned a prised asset, La Salle in the states, to try and scupper the deal.

Barclays were offering less money for a bigger bank.
# rob4i 2012-03-16 15:55
I am willing to set up a DD to help, through my own Bank Account and wanted to do £5 pm but does not appear to be allowed, Sorry!!
# rob4i 2012-03-16 16:53
How many will report on Mr Darling’s real views on people who thought the acquisition of ABN Amro a good idea?

As all the press are Unionist…..NONE!!
(Unionism = hubristic subterfuge!)

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