Thursday, September 18, 2008

What About Jobs in Halifax, Mr Darling?

In his interview on Five Live this morning, Alistair Darling was asked about job losses as a result of the Lloyds/HBOS proposed deal . He undertandably made it clear that he was concerned about job losses and that he had "spoken to the Bank about the need to maintain a significant presence in Scotland" and also that "a key concern is about jobs is about maintaining a significant presence in Edinburgh".

This is an understandable concern for an Edinburgh MP (majority 7,242) but is it right for a Chancellor of the Exchequer, in very sensitive negotiations where the Government could have blocked the merger on competition grounds, to put pressure on the merged bank to maintain its presence in Edinburgh, as opposed to London, Gloucester, Halifax etc?

71 comments:

Newmania said...

That is astonishing Iain....apart from anything else what has it got to do with him?

Anonymous said...

anyone might think there is a by-election coming up in Scotland or something

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Deal was. "You Keep the Edinburgh jobs safe (Mr Darling and Mr Brown needs their votes) and we will keep off the competition regulators."

Anonymous said...

If HBOS had gone tits up, they wouldn't have much of a presence in Edinburgh, Glasgow or London..

These are the 'market forces' of which you Tories are such worshippers.

You can't run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, dear boy..

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are to blame for failing to introduce measures against short selling and tighter FSA regulations on hedge funds after the Northern Rock debacle.

Alex said...

Hang on a mo, everybody.

This deal hasn't happened yet. It still requires approval from 2 million shareholders, many of whom might think that the shares are worth more than the £2.19 they are being offered by Lloyds, perhaps not the £11 they might have got for them last year, but perhaps they are quite happy with the dividemds they are getting at the moment thank you very much without taking a lower dividend from Lloyds.

As for Darling, of course he is concerned about jobs in Edinburgh. It's much more likely to go Conservatice than Halifax.

Desperate Dan said...

I was appalled to hear on the today programme that numerous branches of the Halifax will close. I bank at TSB and the queues at TSB branches are already horrendous. If Halifax customers join the TSB queues the whole ystem will grind to a halt.

Hitchy said...

HBOS is symbolic in Scotland - BoS was founded by Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1695. In fact, the merger itself may need an Act of Parliament to approve it (as the merger between Halifax and BoS did).

Jobs in Halifax are less important as they are administrative, not HQ jobs - despite the name, BoS bought Halifax, it wasn't a merger. Their loss will be less keenly felt.

And of course, Labour needs to be careful on this votes-wise...forcing through a merger which will cost many Scottish jobs as two Scottish institutions (BoS and the TSB) are subsumed into an English one? Looks rather like an open goal for the SNP.

The Lakelander said...

...and let's not forget Birmingham...

trevorsden said...

But surely the other point is the possible loss of Lloyds jobs.

Here you are working for the only well run bank in the country and at the instigation of Brown/ Darling you find yourself part of a take over that might cost your your job.

The notion that there may be a special interest put in favour of jobs in Edinburgh as opposed to London is appalling. Likewise what might workers for Cheltenham Glocester think if preference is given to Halifax?

Chris said...

As someone who lives and works in West Yorkshire Financial services industry (not HBOS)- I was very annoyed at Darlings comments - i.e. only saving Scottish jobs are important.

Anonymous said...

Er...perhaps because he was specifically asked about Edinburgh Iain, and because the deal specifically refers to keeping jobs (not all) in Scotland.

As a failed conservative candidate, and failed chief of staff of a failed leadership bid advising a sitting MP and Chancellor, what would you suggest?

marksany said...

hitchy,

less keenly felt WTF?

I take it you are not a Halifax employee. I'm sure they will feel their unemployment just as keenly as anyone else.

Anonymous said...

You are on to something here Ian. Declan Curry had the takeover details infront of him on the Breakfast news. He read out a long list of promises to keep the BOS operation virtually unchanged, even the AGM of the new company will be held in Scotland. Looks like Lloyds by protecting Edinburgh jobs got around the competition rules.

Anonymous said...

alex - Well I for one will be voting against it - Why stitch ourselves up by being handcuffed to a liability like HBOS ?? We were doing pretty bloody well all things considered thank you very much, before HBOS lumbered onto the scene...

And I'm sure many, many other LTSB shareholders feel the same way...

Anonymous said...

hitchy is right on the money.

As usual Iain's anti-Scottish sentiments surface. Even without those jobs in Halifax, England will still be well served by a plethora of multinational companies with London HQs and regional centres. HBOS is one of a handful of major companies that are Scottish. The impact of HBOS closures in Scotland will have a greater impact at a national level than jobs in Halifax (no doubt the HQ will go South). For too long government policy, either Labour or Tory, has concentrated too much on London and the South East which has weakened the remaining regional economies and put all the nations eggs in one basket.

BSH said...

The magic bullet is that the Bank of Scotland 'part' of HBOS is actually surprisingly healthy in comparison to the Halifax part as Halifax dominates the mortgage market wheras BOS pushes over its weight in investments.

As a result Scottish savers provide a vast stack of the deposits in BOS, if they all walked to RBS, HBOS would collapse. In which case this situation would be tantamount to HBOS being sold to RBS, creating an 'even more' super-bank.

HBOS is almost a catch-22 bank.

One of the other ecentricities is that the Bank of Scotland is one of the three banks in Scotland which are allowed to print currency (having done so since the 17th century) and as a result the merger will likely cause many legal quandaries!

Blue Eyes said...

Have most of the above commenters completely missed the point of the post? Iain is not saying that people in Halifax or Edinburgh or London are more or less valuable - he is pointing out that the supposedly BRITISH chancellor is acting to protect SCOTTISH people preferentially.

Womble On Tour said...

This looks on the face of it (and we need to guard against taking what Darling said out of context) like a Scottish chancellor and Edinburgh MP putting local interest first.
If it's wholly true, it's an abuse of power and Darling should resign. It's a pity that old battle-axe Alice Mahon isn't still Halifax's MP - she'd have had his balls.

Toque said...

See the Standard for more on the Scottish Raj's favouritism.

Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in Halifax I can tell you that lots of people are employed by the Halifax in either the main building or the Copley data centre. Many of the school leavers go onto work in the Halifax. There are some poor areas in Halifax and without HBOS I'm sure there would be alot more crime. I'm sure the electorate around here won't be happy with the government allowing the merger.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's true. But what do you expect from a Chancellor and Prime Minister who signed the Scottish Claim of Right, pleding that Scotland's interests shall be paramount in everything they do?

It's not like we in England can vote the bastards out, is it? The Scots keep voting bastards back in and we have no national government of our own.

The BBC will never report on this. Never.

Anonymous said...

Evening standard agrees with you Ian.

Brown pledges to save Scots workers 'in bid to limit political fall-out'


Brown is never straight with people is he? It is all about what HE can get out of it, never what is good for the country.

Tally said...

"We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount

Alistair Darling 1988

formerunionist said...

Par for the course. Both Darling and Brown signed the Sottish Claim of right, pledging to put Scotland first in all things. What else do you expect?

hbos employee said...

Quite clearly many of these commenters would rather just abandon the north of Britain, much like the Policy Exchange suggested a few weeks ago.

Gee thanks. I'm just glad that your opinions don't matter.

The joke would be on you though, because we would all move south and damage your quality of life.

Old Holborn said...

Never mind that, who was that moron sat next to you on Sky last night? I think he was supposed to be a comedian but your tie/shirt combination raised more of a smile here at Farqham Hall

Anonymous said...

Iain, your point was raised by LEX
In the FT this morning.
"The second myth is that the deal was negotiated on a purely commercial basis. The UK government may not have negotiated the actual terms of the share exchange but it has left its fingerprints all over the small print of the deal..."

Arkangel said...

If it looks like shit and smells like shit then it's probably shit...and this deal looks and smells of shit.

Anonymous said...

anon @12.46

Lloyds TSB's registered office is in Scotland (Glasgow) you idiot.

Stephen Glenn said...

Also Iain the BoS has to maintain a presence in Scotland if under the Bank Notes (Scotland) 1846 Act it is to remain able to print banknotes.

Apparently Halifax staff are seeking singing careers or looking to become redcoats.

Anonymous said...

No surprise here at all. If I were a Labour MP, I'd be worrying about keeping my seat right now, not how the govt comes out of this crisis or whether Labour will be in government after a GE; they won't. If I were Darling, I wouldn't give two s***s about the people in Halifax, or even most of edinburgh. I would care solely and only about the voters in Edinburgh South West.

Anonymous said...

Brown seems to be in self-congratulatory mode. from The Guardian:
'Brown went on: "I also believe we have got to deal with the other problems, and that includes mistakes that were made in the past, cleaning up the financial system.

"We have got to look at where there has been irresponsible behaviour. I've said for some time that we need to reforms in the system. I believe there's now an audience that agrees with me that we should do more.

"We've got to clean up the financial system. We don't want these problems recurring in the future..."'

What took him so long?

As for learning and non-recurrence, Brown has at least 10 yrs on me and I can remember the cause of the slowdown in the early 90s: over exposure by banks to the property market with no consideration of a fall in property values. People in the industry said then "100% mortgages? Never again." Easily forgotten obviously, along with the development of further creativity applied to credit products.

Andrew Scadding said...

I am very dubious about the virtues of using taxpayers money to save financial services jobs in Scotland or Halifax or indeed anywhere else. The Financial services industry has made billions by piously ordering the extinction of hundreds of thousands of businesses over the past twenty years or so. Seems to me first that those who live by the sword should be prepared to perish by the sword without complaint. Second that it is a bit rich to expect those who have lost their own jobs and businesses to pay tax to subsidise the featherbedding of the FS industry. They got themselves into this mess through lies, deceit, greed and incompetence. Although not necessarily in that order. Interesting, though, to speculate whether, had the boot been on the other foot, a Scottish PM and a Scottish Chancellor would have offered to fix the competition commission to let BOS save Lloyds bacon.

Anonymous said...

"HBOS is symbolic in Scotland"

yeah - and the Halifax is a symbol of England, northern grit and all that -

and so how much care does Darling give voice to to preserve ENGLISH jobs

why p--k all of course!

as Chancellor he is supposed to represent the entire United Kindom not juts Scotland and not just his own constituency

yet another argument for a separate English parliament, government and ministers apart from the British one - which could trimmed in size +++++++

Anonymous said...

Re: Blue Eyes 1:06 PM - that's yours and Iain's interpretation. To me it looks like a British PM and Chancellor looking to protect the people who will be hardest hit. The situation between Edinburgh and Halifax are not equal. Most people would accept that the consequences on the Edinburgh financial sector, the area of most economic growth to Scotland just as London is to England, will be a hammer blow to the entire economic prospects of the Scottish nation. In which case the PM and Chancellor have IMO and many others correctly prioritised Edinburgh over Halifax.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:31 PM LloydsTSB group headquarters 25 Gresham Street, London. Who's the idiot now?

Newmania said...

"Labour now has an historic opportunity to seize the political high ground. The era of selfish individualism is on the wane. The electorate is increasingly concerned with social insurance, safeguarding living standards and ensuring social stability and ecological sustainability. From stranded holidaymakers to pension holders, to those falling ill, they are discovering that these collective goods are in dangerously short supply. The future will demand a more active and democratic state engaging with economic development and regulation. The redistribution of wealth and resources will be essential in rebalancing a dysfunctional economy."

Thast what John Crud MP Thinks

Anonymous said...

Much, much more to come out of this takeover and the favours and back stopping that the UK taxpayer will be, in time, seen to be underwriting.

Lola said...

I was going to post Darling = prat. But I am not so sure. Perhaps Darling = "I know how many beans make five and I know we've made an unholy mess of the economy but I have to do the best with this thankless job and I might as well say the usual political cobblers about jobs and the like because I/we are doomed anyway so it'll be the next lots problem. Oh well. Let's see, what's on the telly tonight? Pour me a Scotch luv.

Chicago Bear said...

It strikes me that the last couple of days have been a 'Good time to bury bad news'

I do hope some Conservative Party Researchers take time to trawl over the recent releases for sundry departments because therre are bound to have been various things slipped out.

Just a thought - but this lot does have previous ......

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12.57:

Do you actually know where Halifax is?

notthatsmith said...

hbos employee said 'The joke would be on you though, because we would all move south and damage your quality of life.'

blair, brown, darling...its too late - scots moving south already have damaged our quality of life

Terry Heath said...

Places like Halifax used to be the spiritual home of the Labour party.

Given devolution, Barnett and the PM & Chancellor's pledge to hold their interests "paramount", it seems the likes of Halifax (and the rest of England) can go to hell if it conflicts with Scotland's interests.

I do hope the voters of halifax remember this in the next election. Where the hell is their (Labour) MP Linda Riordan?

Man in a Shed said...

This is what happens when you have a Scots dominated Labour party competing with the SNP and nobody to represent the English.

As usual the English are expected to pay ...

Blue Eyes said...

looking to protect the people who will be hardest hit

But he didn't say that. He could have easily said something along the lines of "this government is trying to mitigate the impact of any job losses" but he specifically mentioned his home city. Why do you think that was?

The Labour government are no longer interested in the country as a whole, just in propping up their core vote to avoid total humiliation. It won't work - the country has had enough. Time for an election.

Desperate Dan said...

Trinity Mirror shareholders were quite right to complain about Sir Victor Blank's donation of £75,000 of their money to the Labour Party. It didn't do them much good. But it did wonders for his career.

Rohan said...

Where the axe falls deepens on the bottom line. Obviously any politician is going to lobby for cuts other than in his own back yard. This is a dog chases cat story.

The irony here is that some people are focusing on the fallout from one shotgun wedding. The wider impact of this crisis will be more than a few thousand job losses. We should be more worried about that.

Anonymous said...

Anon said
"Most people would accept that the consequences on the Edinburgh financial sector, the area of most economic growth to Scotland just as London is to England, will be a hammer blow to the entire economic prospects of the Scottish nation. "

yep thats it , the Scottish NATION must be looked after above all


and to hell with England - which is a nation too -
occupied by the BritishScottish government.

ian said...

Protecting Scottish jobs? Wait for the squealing from Scottish Labour when the incoming Tory government decides to cancel one or both of the Navy's new aircraft carriers because we can't afford them, thanks to the profligacy of Brown (and those supine non-entities at the MOD, Hoon and Browne). Now why was it again that Rosyth was so favoured?

Stephen Gash said...

I can see David Donald "I've got lots of Scottish blood slopping around my veins" Cameron saying exactly the same thing as Darling.

Cameron won't give the "sour little Englanders" anything. He wants to preserve the "Union" (stop laughing) no matter how imperfect it is. Provided the imperfections disadvantage England and the English, that is.

I'm not holding my breath for George Osbourne to ask what Iain's asking.

Is there an MP at Westminster who actually cares about England?

Manfarang said...

Things are much worse than what you think.I got stopped at Gatwick Airport to make sure I wasn't taking out a bag of Lewes pounds with me.

Anonymous said...

A curious take-over, not the last second deal it is being made out to be. Like a lot of things in politics, not all is what it seems to be. Was Gordo stitched up I wonder by two CE's who saw a way of growing their empires that avoided competition rules?

John Moss said...

http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/edinburghsouthwest

http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/halifax

I think you will find Halifax is far more vulnerable than Edinburgh South West.

Perhaps Labour have already written off Halifax as a lost seat and are hoping to hang on in ESW?

Alfie said...

Another day, another great deal for the people of Scotland at the expense of their hard pressed English neighbours. What is it about Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling? Oh yeah, that's right - they look after their own at the expense of us!

What a rubbish totem of corruption this supposed 'union of equals' actually is. It ain't equal. it ain't fair and it ain't democratic for the people of England. The sooner we have our English Parliament restored so it can look after the affairs of the English people, the better. And if the beloved 'union of equals' goes belly up because of it, then bring it on - because it isn't worth saving in the first place.

For now, let's just add 'job favouritism at the expense of the English' to the long list of stuff that the Scots get as of right that we in England don't (free cancer drugs, free residential care, no tuition fees, higher public spending per individual, free prescriptions, diminishing council taxes, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc).

Hush, is that the sound of outraged Halifax Labour MPs screaming out about how unfair it all is? Naw, just the sound of them sitting on their hands and whistling dixie, too timid to actually do their jobs and fight for the rights of their English constituents.

What a bunch of idle tossers.

trevorsden said...

Are you saying Edinburgh SW is less vulnerable to the Scot Nats than Halifax is to the Tories?

I repeat that surely the real scandal would be if jobs went is safe secure (up till now!) Lloyds TSB all because Gordon Brown encouraged them to take over HBOS. And that means jobs in Scotland as well as England.

And elewhere? Can it really be long before two other banks want to merge to compete with this new giant? Could such a merger (and job losses) be resisted on competition grounds.

TJNewton said...

alfie...

You've hit the nail right on the head (re free this, that and the next thing), it IS the right of the Scots to the benefits that have resulted from a empowering a self-governing parliment. What is wrong with that, they have had the good sense to vote and put in place a government that responds to their needs and wants. What is so astounding about that? Your grievence lies with the Westminster government, not the Scots'. Please don't mix these up. You want independence from the Scots, go ahead, the Scots will not stop this, London will. Focus on that. Is not the problem of the Scots if they have limited independence (and the benefits that come from this) - the origin of this disparity lies squarely in London.

Some others...

For those (Mr Dale included), you must be being ironic... are you really so naive to think this is a problem caused by HBOS (FSA say they are sound) and this result has anything to do with the Glenrothes by-election or the PM's current predicament? Come on. No presence in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Halifax... the presence of HBOS is world-wide. If HBOS did go down, the presence would be felt at places further afield than Yorkshire, or even London. It is, after all a rather large bank - and everybody would be further up the creek. The responsible action has stemmed the flow and you can thank the PM (if he did anything) for intervening, coz it might have been your bank branch next, your mortgage, your savings.

I have no doubt that any one of our large banks would have happily stepped in to save another (at bargain price)... its a no-brainer. That it happens to be HBOS, great, I'm glad it was a bank with a diverse range of 'interest' (no pun intended) that it was considered worth taking-over, rather than left to go to the wall - risking, aside from further instability in an already weak market, my branch, my mortgage, my savings.

Anyway, get over your anti-Scots resentment/jealousy, focus on our UK government for your problems (same as the Scots do!). Perhaps next time we can all vote for and decide a government that looks after its people as well as the mandate of the government voted by Scots' people requires.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12.57:

Do you actually know where Halifax is?"

Course I do-its the capital of Nova Scotia, isn't it??

Anonymous said...

The founding fathers of the Halifax will be spinning in their graves. If you include the nearby data centre I reckon there are about 6,000 working for HBOS in the area.
Freedom to Prosper

Terry Heath said...

TJ

The fault lies with partial devolution and denial for some Britons (English) what has been granted for others (Scots).

You and I might understand this, but Brown/Darling/Falconer/Campbell/Menzies/Cameron et al don't.

You have your Parliament to represent your national interest and you have disproportionate power in the UK one to ensure this kind of krappola lands at England's door.

Give us a UK election; and/or give England a referendum along the same lines as that given to Scotland ten years ago whilst Labour has at least half a chance of being a political force in the next election. That, or cut to the chase and break up the Union now because this is where Mr Bean is taking us.

I don't care which, but this situation really cannot continue! It is wrong and anyone with half a conscience knows it!

Womble On Tour said...

TJ Newton: you have utterly missed the point. This has got nothing to do with devolution, and the point at issue is not whether HBOS should or should not have been saved. It IS to do with a Scottish PM and a Scottish Chancellor, occupying Scottish seat, and about to fight a Scottish by-election, apparently leaning on a a company to prioritise jobs in Scotland ahead of jobs in England. The allegation is that they abused their positions.

Anonymous said...

were going to leave it a few days
then we are going to knock over another bank

just watch us

join the get rich scheme

capitalism I love it

Anonymous said...

More deregulation of the market please

dont go back on the best Conservative pledge yet

its called capitalism

Anonymous said...

you can turn Northern Towns into a museum

now who said that

Anonymous said...

More deregulation of the market please

dont go back on the best Conservative pledge yet

its called capitalism

John Moss said...

trevorsden said...
Are you saying Edinburgh SW is less vulnerable to the Scot Nats than Halifax is to the Tories?


Yes.

Edinburg SW 2005 result

Labour: 17476 (39.8%)
Conservative: 10234 (23.3%)
Liberal Democrat: 9252 (21.1%)
SNP: 4654 (10.6%)
Other: 2310 (5.3%)
Majority: 7242 (16.5%)

Halifax notional 2005 result

Labour: 16620 (41.8%)
Conservative: 13182 (33.2%)
Liberal Democrat: 7112 (17.9%)
Other: 2825 (7.1%)
Majority: 3438 (8.7%)

Anonymous said...

HBOS is (or was) Scotland's second largest company. Of course it is more important to prioritise Edinburgh jobs than Halifax jobs. Could you imagine any government favouring a city other than London if England's second largest company was in trouble? Of course not.

Anonymous said...

Iain those other jobs are 'only' English jobs!!! it doesnt matter if theyre lost!, England is just the piggy bank of scotland, wales and N ireland.

The laughably titled "United Kingdom" is all about give and take!.

England gives, scotland wales and N ireland take!, and why are we surprised, Broon and Darling (and the rest of the scottish mafia that has hijjocked England are all signaturies to the "Scottish claim of Right" and have swore on oath/record that in "all their deliberations the interests of Scotland and the scottish people shall be paramount".

This oath they swore has never been rescinded.

Chris Paul said...

BOS is the majority partner in the HBOS thing. Yet, in the cold light of day the Halifax folk are more special to the new group. So the emphasis is correct. But watch out Cheltenham.

The greatest overlap in staff and overheads must be in the retail branch network?

Obviously the Scottish end is the hot potato with Salmond on the march.

TJNewton said...

Terry Heath,

we are in agreement on the general aspects of your points. Again, look to London for changes on how England's people are best represented. I only find it (in reality, not very) suprising that these commenators wish bad for the Scots because have they obtained (almost) what these commentators seem to wish for themselves.

The WLothian Qn and the current power distribution between Edinburgh and Westminster that you allude to is often brought up and needs addressing, but here Scotland's hands are tied.

Where I disagee is that this 'krappola' has landed, at England's door. We are not dealing with parochial, family-run businesses here (I exagerate). Their scope, influence and presence is much wider. We are living in times where we can see that the financial consenquences of any bank in trouble has global consequences on a daily basis, whether or not they have a head office in Edinburgh, Birmingham, London, NY, Tokyo, .... It lands at all our doors (and our doors [mine anway] are paid for - in a large proportion by HBOS, though more H than BOS). I also continue to maintain that because Lloyds TSB has waded in (seeing a good deal) has saved more institutions facing similar situations as HBOS.

Anyway, long and short is, don't blame the Scots for doing just that within the limited scope offered to them (some time ago), as the result of a pledge you may even have voted for.

Womble. I could see that GBrown could benefit from the situation. Who can blame him, the situation could used for some + points. But leverage hmm, would it not be more likely any leverage or any deal was sold in the opposite direction, to GBrown? Are Lloyds going to be bullied into a bum-deal by a PM on the way out? No, they are more likely to have proposed the deal. Methinks the PM's position was ripe for using rather a case of the PM abusing his position.

Andrew R said...

Does anyone else see the parallel between modern captalism and the control the aristocracy had on us before the advent of inheritance tax?

Perhaps it's time to do the same to and tax them into line. Oh wait...I said the Windfall Tax thing. Damn...