Tories Campaign Against Scottish Independence (Shock) 136

Keith Skeoch, Executive Director of Standard Life, is on the Board of Reform Scotland, the neo-conservative lobby group which wants to abolish the minimum wage,  privatize the NHS and pensions and restrict trade unions further.

It is difficult for Tories openly to campaign against Scottish Independence as everyone in Scotland hates them, so they do it with their corporate hats on.  This is most of the board of Standard Life:

Keith Skeoch, Executive Director, right wing political lobbyist

Crawford Gillies, Non Executive Director, Chairman of Control Risk Group, of London, the “security consultancy” of choice heavily peopled by ex MI5 and MI6 officers

Garry Grimstone, Chairman, “lead non-executive” at the Ministry of Defence, London

Noel Harwerth, non-executive Director, Director of “London First” – [Honestly, I am not making this up]

David Nish – Chief Executive, Member of the “UK Strategy Committee” of “TheCity UK”. “TheCity UK” being a body of the City of London.

John Paynter, non-executive Director, was vice chairman of JP Morgan Cazenove until the 2008 crash

Amazing that lot oppose independence, huh?

Standard Life also threatened to leave at the time of the devolution referendum and gave out no campaign materials to staff.  “Leave” of course is a relative concept – the above bunch just pop up from London from time to time to check on how the serfs are doing.


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136 thoughts on “Tories Campaign Against Scottish Independence (Shock)

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  • Mary

    My comment on the earlier thread. My question was ironic!

    It was remiss of me not to have looked up the members of the board.

    27 Feb, 2014 – 7:56 am
    They are like the animals coming in two by two.

    Now it’s Standard Life.

    Standard Life could quit Scotland
    Standard Life is the first major business to warn it could leave Scotland if it votes for independence

    Is there some orchestration at work?

    A big beast.


  • Robbie

    As a wee South Saxon with republican leftie pretensions, it’s nice not to be the object of Craig’s ire for a change. 😉

  • Hugh Kerr

    Craig great to have you back on form,funny that none of the BBC journalists assiduously spreading Standard Life’s message bothered to check who the people making these decisions about our economy were.Alec Salmond did a splendid job in knocking Lamentable Lamont round the chamber today,she tried to hijack the Proclaimers song ( hasn’t she noticed they are independence supporters!) to proclaim “Standard Life no more”! Alec responded with ” Labour no more”!

  • Mary

    Ref John Paynter, Director.

    Plundering Afghanistan and Kazakhstan

    With regard to Jan Kulczyk’s sizable investment in Afghan Gold last year, one should point out that JP Morgan Cazenove’s point-man in brokering this immensely lucrative deal was their then deputy chair (and head of capital markets) Ian Hannam – a former member of the SAS who counts Richard Williams among his close friends. Hannam is a key advisor for many of the world’s most powerful mining interests, and currently acts as an advisor for Kazak copper mining giant Kazakhmys.

    By way of a short interlude, Kazakhmys, it should be noted, is a particularly well-networked corporate oppressor, as their recent development director is a board member of Lonmin (David Munro); while one of Kazakhmys’ current board members is the omnipresent Lord Renwick. Thus it is more than fitting that Lord Renwick is presently the vice chairman of JPMorgan Cazenove; as is the fact that a former long-serving senior executive at first Cazenove and subsequently at JP Morgan Cazenove, John Paynter, /strong>has served (since 2008) with Oliver Stocken (Home Retail’s recent chairman) on the board of Standard Chartered. (Cazenove was merged with JP Morgan in 2005; a process that Ian Hannam is credited with leading.)

    This brief introduction to a few of the people behind Kazakhmys is especially vital for workers seeking to organize against the ruling class, as despite their managements outstanding ruling class connections Kazakhmys’s employees are winning important victories.

    Michael Barker

    Mining Argos’ Ruling Class

  • James

    I think the media has got completely the wrong idea. Standard Life are neutral. They have made a point that they have a plan in place if a currency union is not agreed. They have not stated that they would follow through, but it is a contingency plan. I assure you they will not be the only company in this line of business with this type of plan, but this doesn’t mean they are pro or anti independence. What this statement does is try to make either the UK government come to an agreement with the Yes campaign over a currency union, or tries to make (which I am yet to hear) the Yes campaign form a plan for if there is no currency union. It is naive to think the Tories of being selfish in this. Sure they may be thinking about the welfare of the remaining states (England, Wales and NI), but if Scotland leave, the Tories would almost be guaranteed power for at least the next couple of elections for the Westminster government.

  • Mary

    Noel Harwerth on the board of Standard Life and London First is also listed on Forbes..

    Noel Harwerth served as Chief Operating Officer of Citibank International PLC from 1998 to 2003. Prior to that, she served as Chief Tax Officer of Citigroup, Dun & Bradstreet Corporation and Kennecott Copper Corporation. She holds a Jurisdoctor degree from the University of Texas Law School. She currently serves on the board of directors of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance, Chairman of Sumitomo Mitsubishi Banking Europe and Chairman of GE Capital Bank Europe.

    Also on Alent

    and was on the board of Anglo Irish Bank but resigned when it went belly up and was nationalized. This is the kind of thing that went on at that time. Board meetings without the presence of the company secretary.

    She likes horses too! Was a director of the Tote.

    As the song goes, ‘I’ve been everywhere man…’ Hard to keep up.

  • Daniel

    Forgive me for being slightly confused. Craig, in response to Neil’s post in the ‘Why Should Ukraine Not Split’ thread, you seem to be in favour of the neoliberal EU economic prescription pertaining to trickle down, the very model you appear to be critical of in relation to the bunch of tories whose outlook and policies you rightly deride in this thread. Would I be correct in pointed out a contradiction in your position, or is it the case that you agree with the EU in principle rather than the flawed economic model it has adopted?

  • N_

    This is a nice find, especially the Control Risks connection.

    I’ve just been reading the Scottish government’s ‘Scotland’s Future’ document, including the sections on intelligence and security.

    They answer several hundred questions, but unfortunately they also choose which questions to ask in the first place. So the questions don’t include “Will you allow MI6 and MI5 to operate in Scotland?” I’d like a clear answer to that one.

    It contains statements such as this:

    Scotland will need significant independent security and
    intelligence capacity to ensure its security. Independence offers an opportunity to build a new model for such work, that is fit for the 21st century and provides a proportionate means of ensuring Scotland’s national security. On independence, the Scottish Government will set up a single security and intelligence agency for Scotland. The purpose of the agency will be set out in legislation, and will include the
    requirement to work with partners to ensure Scotland’s national

    But practically every serious regime in the world has separate security and intelligence agencies, and for good reason.

    I’m afraid they do make themselves sound like local councillors. You could argue that that’s because of the market they’re trying to communicate to, but still.

    Here they go again:

    We do not propose to replicate the current UK security and
    intelligence agencies (the Security Service, or MI5; the Secret
    Intelligence Service, or MI6; and GCHQ), although Scotland will
    continue to work very closely with them to ensure the security of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    One might reasonably ask whether it’s independence they are supposed to be in favour of, or something else.

    Why are they promising, in the main document they’ve written about what it will mean to be independent, to work very closely with a foreign country’s spooks?

    Here’s another statement they make:

    Scotland has invested, as part of the UK, in significant
    intelligence-gathering capabilities and would expect that
    investment to be recognised in the arrangements that will
    be developed.

    What??? So they want a share in GCHQ facilities in Cyprus or on Ascension Island, then,…or in England?

    Maybe they want the same intelligence relation to rUK as the UK currently has to the US? (joke!)

    And here’s another question for them:

    Do they want to receive (and pay for) information received by MI6 as a result of torture?

    They are also extremely mealy-mouthed on the issue of being ‘nuclear-free’.

    I strongly welcome their promise to ensure that nuclear weapons are removed from the Clyde.

    But just read the following!

    329. Would an independent Scotland continue to allow Faslane
    to host non-nuclear armed Royal Navy submarines, such
    as the Astute and Trafalgar, which are nuclear-powered?

    They answer:

    Our priority for Faslane will be to ensure the speediest and
    safest possible transition to its future as a conventional naval
    base serving the defence needs of an independent Scotland.
    This transition will require detailed discussion with the
    Government of the rest of the UK on a range of issues.

    The Scottish Government strongly favours a conventional
    approach to Scotland’s defence, with Faslane being Scotland’s
    main conventional naval base. We do not see the continued
    basing of the Astute or Trafalgar fleets at Faslane, beyond the
    necessary transition period, to be in Scotland’s interests.
    The Westminster Government has signalled its intention to
    locate all of the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet at a single base.
    The current proposal is for this to be HMNB Clyde. In the event
    of independence, it would be for the rest of the UK to decide
    whether to relocate its submarine fleet to the Royal Navy
    submarine base at HMNB Devonport or to another location.

    Why can’t they just say “No“?

    The reason is because they don’t mean “no”. Take a look at this:

    282. Will NATO members with nuclear-armed vessels be allowed
    to enter Scottish waters or dock at Scottish ports?
    It is our firm position that an independent Scotland should not
    host nuclear weapons and we would only join NATO on that

    To which they answer:

    While the presence of nuclear weapons on a particular vessel is never confirmed by any country, we would expect any visiting vessel to respect the rules that are laid down by the government of an independent Scotland.

    That is pathetic!

    For a time, Denmark and New Zealand refused to allow US vessels into their ports unless the US confirmed unequivocally that they were not carrying nuclear weapons.

    Scotland could do the same.

    Unfortunately, both Denmark and New Zealand reversed their policy. Scotland could get the ball rolling in the right direction again.

    But oh no. This is what the Scottish government has the gall to say:

    While they are both strong advocates for nuclear disarmament, both Norway and Denmark allow NATO vessels to visit their ports without confirming or denying whether they carry nuclear weapons. We intend that Scotland will adopt a similar approach as Denmark and Norway in this respect.”

    Norway and Denmark – “advocates for nuclear disarmament”? You might as well say the US is an advocate of nuclear disarmament!

    If the Scottish government actually grew a pair, I might feel more inclined to support them!

  • N_

    Ireland, Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland are “neutral”. Why couldn’t Scotland be? How about stopping referring only to NATO members such as Denmark and Norway?

    Here’s what I would like to see:

    1) “We will not enter into any defence alliances with any other country

    2) “We will not allow any vessel to enter a Scottish port unless we receive an explicit prior assurance that it is not carrying nuclear, chemical or biological weapons

    3) “We will not allow any other country to keep military or intelligence bases in Scotland

    Frankly, what kind of ‘security’ is it to allow another country to bring its nukes into your ports?

  • Juteman

    A cynic might think this ‘attack’ was designed to bury the excellent Standard and Poors report released today. Seems like an indy Scotland might be quite wealthy.

  • tartanfever


    Nice to see you mention Reform Scotland and describe them as they really are, a ‘neo-conservative lobby group’.

    Somehow they have managed to get themselves recognised as a charity under the heading of ‘Education’. Quite how they fit into this category is a puzzle. Every single report they publish recommends one thing consistently, the need for public money to be spent in privatising the welfare state, be that schools or hospitals. They accuse the SNP government of being ‘afraid of competition’, especially when it comes to public spending.

    Until recently they would publish their donors on the website, that has now disappeared. For some years they were heavily funded by Skanska, a firm that, among other things, builds hospital and school infrastructure – that coincided nicely with a report from Reform recommending that new GP’s surgeries and buildings were required.

    The short story is they are a business lobby group – how that qualifies them as a charity I don’t know.

    The other interesting thing about them, they supported the ‘Devo Plus’ option, more powers for the Scottish Government but short of independence. However, the couple of times I’ve heard their chairman, Ben Thomson, on Radio 4 and on BBC Scotland TV – he’s always refused to answer when asked directly if he supports independence or not.

    Clearly, by taking a promotional role behind a ‘devo plus’ stance, they don’t support independence.

    I know there are some rules under which charitable status can be affected by political advocacy, and it seems clear that Reform Scotland to, are aware that any charitable status (which gives them a raft of tax benefits) may be withdrawn if a group is promoting a political stance. It seems clear that their support of ‘devo-plus’ is precisely that.

    In a nutshell, big business lobby group funded by big business to produce investor friendly reports to see £millions of taxpayers money go to their industry led sponsors is recognised as a ‘charity’.

    Quite unbelievable.

  • Geoffrey

    Why would the Tories want Scotland to stay?-without Scotland there would never be Labour a government in London ever again!
    Standard Life will go where it suits them.

  • A Node

    I’ve just received an email from 38 degrees stating ….

    “Tomorrow MPs will be debating the possibility of re-naming the August bank holiday as “Margaret Thatcher Day”. But 38 Degrees member Louise has started a petition against the idea, and it already has over 75,000 signatures.”

    ….. and asking me to sign the petition.
    I don’t know about that. I like the idea of having a Margaret Thatcher Day a couple of weeks before the referendum.

  • N_

    without Scotland there would never be Labour a government in London ever again!

    Well I don’t know what lies in the future and perhaps you’re right, but I think you may have been misled on the facts from the past.

    Someone here went through all the UK general election results since 1945 and looked at what the results would have been if the Scottish seats were removed. Here are the stats:

    1945 Labour govt (Attlee) NO CHANGE
    1950 Labour govt (Attlee) NO CHANGE
    1951 Conservative govt (Churchill/Eden) NO CHANGE
    1955 Conservative govt (Eden/Macmillan) NO CHANGE
    1959 Conservative govt (Macmillan/Douglas-Home) NO CHANGE
    1964 Labour govt (Wilson) CHANGE: LAB MAJ 4 TO CON MAJ OF 1
    1966 Labour govt (Wilson =) NO CHANGE
    1970 Conservative govt (Heath) NO CHANGE
    1974 Minority Labour govt (Wilson) POSSIBLE CHANGE – LAB MINORITY TO CON MINORITY
    1974b Labour govt (Wilson/Callaghan) CHANGE: LAB MAJORITY TO LAB MINORITY
    1979 Conservative govt (Thatcher) NO CHANGE
    1983 Conservative govt (Thatcher) NO CHANGE
    1987 Conservative govt (Thatcher/Major) NO CHANGE
    1992 Conservative govt (Major) NO CHANGE
    1997 Labour govt (Blair) NO CHANGE
    2001 Labour govt (Blair) NO CHANGE
    2005 Labour govt (Blair/Brown) NO CHANGE
    2010 Coalition govt (Cameron) CHANGE: CON-LIB COALITION TO CON MAJORITY

  • David

    If Reform Scotland is indeed “a neo-conservative lobby group which wants to abolish the minimum wage, privatize the NHS and pensions and restrict trade unions further” why was their last event in the Scottish Parliament sponsored and hosted by left-wing SNP MSP Joan McAlpine?

  • A Node

    “without Scotland there would never be Labour a government in London ever again!

    Don’t worry about England having a Conservative government in perpetuity if Scotland gets independence. The point of a democracy is to give the illusion of choice, to make it seem like the people are in charge.

    If/When Scotland’s Labour voters are subtracted from the UK electorate, the propaganda will be adjusted accordingly to ensure that the two party your-turn-our-turn system continues uninterrupted.

  • Geoffrey

    Less 52 Labour and Libdem MPs in the last two General Elections,with the added bonus of a few less SNP MPs! and only one less Tory.
    Enough I’d have thought to make a Tory ambivalent.

  • David Moynagh

    No Matter how many directorships that a right wing “Reformer” might have, my single YES vote for independence is greater in effect .

  • Simon Milne

    The largest part of Standard Life is its UK business, employing around 6,000 people in Edinburgh.It is also one of the world’s leading sustainability-driven publicly listed companies.The board has eight men and four women.- Wikipedia

  • Geoffrey

    That reminds me N_ a financial crisis caused by RBS and HBOS (amongst others)egged on by Brown….thanks Scotland!
    With the consequences delayed by Darling!

  • glenn_uk

    Geoffrey, the (worldwide) financial disaster was not caused by Brown. Not unless you think he was somehow responsible for the massive sub-prime meltdown, plus accompanying credit default swaps, in the US which precipitated it.

  • Anon

    N_ 6:36pm:

    A bit OTT with the survivalist stuff there, N_, though I don’t doubt that in common with other Murrayistas, hardly a day passes in which you don’t pray for a catastrophe.

  • glenn_uk

    Statcounter does appear to be down right now – I’ve just tried from a number of locations

  • Anon

    “Geoffrey, the (worldwide) financial disaster was not caused by Brown”

    Good to see you commenting here, Gordon. Nothing to do with your ten years as Chancellor, then?

    I really need to find that YouTube compilation showing the number of times you have used the word “glorbal” in relation to the collapse that happened entirely under your watch.

  • N_

    I think there will be a catastrophe, yes. I don’t pray for one – I’m not religious. But I do hope it will be sooner rather than later.

    With regard to ‘subprime’, or the lending of money to people who have little chance of being able to pay it back, that continues to be done in the UK on a very very large and increasing scale.

    ‘Subprime’ is by no means only a feature of the past, of the ‘noughties’. It is very big now, and it’s growing.

    I wish the Scottish Government would give a cast-iron guarantee that in the event of a ‘yes’ result, people’s bank deposits would be protected up to a figure of £85000 per account, as they currently are by the UK government…theoretically.

    If they want to dispel the fear caused by the UK Treasury when it said last year that Scotland might have difficulty matching the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, they should do so – as soon as possible, and as clearly as possible.

    But will they?

    They do say something about the issue in the ‘Scotland’s Future’ document, but it falls a long way short of a promise.

    They should say outright that they give the guarantee no matter what any other party, such as the rUK or the EU, might say or do.

    Instead, they link what they say to ‘EU rules’ (which are irrelevant if Scotland isn’t allowed into the EU), and they say that

    (m)any of these questions have straightforward, factual
    answers. The answers to some others will depend on the
    outcome of negotiations with the Westminster Government,
    and here we set out what we consider to be the reasonable
    and common sense position, based on the interests of both
    the rest of the UK and of Scotland. Where the answer to a
    question depends on the policy decisions of a future
    government of an independent Scotland, we give the view
    of the current Scottish Government.

    Whether people support independence, oppose it, or couldn’t care less about it, they should pressurise the Scottish government to come up with a proper promise on this.

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