Letter to Scotsman: Get Scotmid to bank ethically and get RBS out of our schools!

RBS logo crossed out

I have just written to the Scotsman newspaper about the campaigns to get Scotmid to ditch RBS and bank ethically and to get RBS out of Scottish schools.

[Update, 28 May 2012:  The Scotsman has failed to publish this letter.  I have sent it to the Herald.]

Just sent this letter to the Scotsman.  It will be interesting to see if it is published!

Scotmid (the Scottish Midland Co-operative Society Limited, trading as Scotmid Co-operative) is an independent retail consumers’ co-operative that prides itself on the ethical nature of its business. However, at its recent AGM in Edinburgh I learnt that it banks with the Royal Bank of Scotland, an institution whose dismal record on human rights and the environment, and its use of tax havens, explains its Ethiscore rating of only 1.5 out of a possible 20. According to information provided by Move Your Money UK, RBS invests in, amongst other dubious projects, the exploitation of tar sands in Madagascar and Alberta, Canada. The legal struggle of the First Nations Beaver Lake Cree people against the latter project – environmentally devastating – is backed by The Co-operative Group Limited’s Co-operative Bank. It seems that the left hand of these co-operative institutions does not know what the right is doing. A petition to get Scotmid to bank more ethically (http://tiny.cc/scotmidbank) has now been signed by, amongst others, journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and author Andy Wightman, both of whom take a keen interest in land-ownership issues. I would encourage others to examine this issue and consider adding their signatures.

MoneyNonSense

The Royal Bank of Scotland teaches Scottish children about money management, but it has an appalling record on human rights and the environment, reflected in its Ethiscore of only 1.5 out of a possible 20, and played a major role in precipitating the economic crisis. It is surely not a fit and proper organisation to teach Scottish children about money and should be denied this whitewashing/advertising opportunity.

Scotmid is not the only surprising RBS supporter. The Scottish Government appears to believe that this unethical and incompetent institution (which many authorities maintain played a significant role in causing the current economic crisis) is fit to teach our schoolchildren about money under its MoneySense programme. (Of course, UK taxpayers largely own RBS and the UK government has failed to direct it to behave more ethically, so the Scottish Government is not alone in tacitly supporting its nefarious activities.) How can RBS be considered a fit and proper institution to teach children about money management, and why does the Scottish Government appear to allow it this effective advertising and whitewashing/greenwashing opportunity? I have launched a campaign to change this (http://tiny.cc/moneynonsense).I believe that Move Your Money UK (an organisation that encourages ethical banking) and Positive Money (an organisation that explains the flawed nature of our monetary system) would be far more appropriate institutions to teach children about money, but this raises the broader question of to what extent, if any, third parties (especially logo-emblazoned ones) should be allowed into our schools. Work experience is one thing, but by allowing businesses to teach our children in our schools in this way, are we not effectively condoning the stealthy privatisation of the education system? At the very least, I would want schoolchildren to be made aware of their responsibility to consider the broader consequences of their banking decisions, and for any branded literature provided by organisations to be balanced by information on their records and practices.

In conclusion, I would encourage all individuals and institutions to consider the role of banks in the ongoing global economic and environmental crisis when deciding with whom to bank. Should RBS choose to behave ethically, I would be happy to call for people to bank with it.

DR R. ERIC SWANEPOEL

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About biowrite

I am a writer specialising in non-fiction, particularly in assisting people with their biographies.
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3 Responses to Letter to Scotsman: Get Scotmid to bank ethically and get RBS out of our schools!

  1. mikeferrigan says:

    Excellent article!

  2. biowrite says:

    Just received this interesting information from a nameless source. The key phrase seems to be: “So much for co-operation!”

    “Re your campaign with Scotmid and RBS, the real reason that Scotmid don’t use The Co-operative Bank is a mixture of politics and rivalry.

    “The Co-operative Group is determined to create a UK-wide retail group all under the same co-operative ownership and trading with the same fascia. Scotmid don’t want to agree to that as it would involve the loss of jobs (mainly directors and the executive team) and may lead to the closure of the Newbridge office.

    “Scotmid are already reliant on The Co-operative group for their purchasing and distribution arrangements and wouldn’t want to be more dependent on them re banking and finance.

    “The other reason is that both Scotmid and the Co-operative Group are in competition for the acquisition of remaining independent Scottish chains of convenience stores. For example, Scotmid bought both Morning Noon & Night and Botterills in recent years, whilst The Co-operative bought David Sands. More than likely, they will have been bidding against each other. So much for co-operation!

    “Scotmid had to borrow considerable sums to finance the purchases of these chains, so they would not wish the C-operative Group to know of their plans.

    “During the big expansion years of Scotmid under the previous CEO, Colin Bird, they were paying over the top for acquisitions such as Semi Chem, Options, Morning Noon & Night, Thomas Brown, M&S Toiletries, Alldays, SCS and Dundas Fyfe, RBS were the only bank willing to support these acquisitions because they were so gung-ho!”

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