Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation: First RBS, now Gordon Brown

By William K. Black

I just wrote a column noting that the business interests trying to panic the Scots against voting to restore their independence were so clueless that they were citing RBS – the bank that epitomized the fraud epidemics that drove the UK economic collapse.  As I have explained in prior columns, the City of London “won” the race to the bottom with Wall Street and became the most shameful and destructive fraud vector in the world.

In the day since I wrote my column three developments reflect the increasing desperation.  First, a poll showed (for the first time) the “yes” campaign with a small lead.  Second, the UK began to try to entice, rather than threaten, Scotland with vague promises of increased autonomy should the Scots vote against independence.  Third, the “no” campaign has wheeled out Gordon Brown to write a column in the New York Times opposing independence.

I explained that it was an exercise in unintentional self-parody for those opposed to independence for Scotland to use RBS’ CEO (who is on the British payroll given the public bailout that left the UK with 80% ownership of RBS) to provide financial grounds for opposing independence.  RBS’ senior managers were so famously incompetent that using RBS as the basis for a financial claim is “roll hopelessly on the floor while convulsing with laughter” levels of funny.

The forces opposing independence are now so desperate that they are rolling out the only financial “expert” who makes RBS look competent by comparison.   Brown is flogging his book (the title of his NYT article and book), so it is easy to understand his actions.  Brown led the disastrous three “de’s” (deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization) of the UK financial system in his capacity as chancellor of the exchequer under Prime Minister Tony Blair and then on becoming Prime Minister in 2007.  Along with Blair they are among the two most culpable people in the world for the global financial crisis and the Great Recession.  The hostility of the pseudo-socialist Labor party to effective financial regulation and its toady relationship to big finance are the defining features of the “new” Democrats and Labor party leaders in the U.S. and the UK.  Brown led Labor to a crushing defeat in 2010.

By 2008, Brown was so unpopular that the polls reached all-time lows for a UK leader.

“[T]he YouGov poll for today’s Daily Telegraph found Mr Brown’s popularity at an all-time low. Barely one in seven voters believes he is fit for the job of Prime Minister.”

The forces opposing independence for Scotland have signaled the bankruptcy of their economic claims when they are forced to turn to Brown, the architect of the UK’s economic disaster (and RBS’ enabler), as their last hope to panic the Scots about the economic consequences of independence.

A Little History

The Scots did not vote for “Union” with the Brits.  “Union” occurred through votes in Scotland’s and Great Britain’s parliaments in 1707.  Britain was excluding Scottish merchants from the colonial trade, so those merchants led the push to renounce Scotland’s sovereignty and independence.  Members of Scotland’s parliament, as the poet Robert Burns famously charged in verse, committed “treason” by being bribed with “gold” by the British.  Burns would have flayed RBS and Brown as the modern incarnations of the “parcel of Rogues” that betrayed Scotland in 1707.

Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation

Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory,
Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name,
Sae fam’d in martial story.
Now Sark rins o’er the Solway sands,
And Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England’s province stands –
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro’ many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitor’s wages.
The English steel we could disdain;
Secure in valour’s station;
But English gold has been our bane –
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

O would, or I had seen the day
That treason thus could sell us,
My auld gray head had lien in clay,
Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour,

I’ll mak’ this declaration;
We’re bought and sold for English gold –
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

Union meant that the Scots infamously fought against America in our war of independence.  Scotland’s “union” with the British was born in scandal and led to the tragedy of the Scots taking orders from the British redcoats and attacking the American patriots who risked their lives to achieve independence.

4 responses to “Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation: First RBS, now Gordon Brown

  1. Nichol Brummer (@Twundit)

    It is very irrelevant to at this point bring up the american war of independence. Or to bring up the fact that Burns was annoyed in 1707 when the king finally succeeded in making the whole thing into a union.

    In fact.. how responsible was Brown for deregulation? Was that not also the standing policy of the Tories since Thatcher? I’m curious who since Thatcher made the biggest and baddest contributions to the recent financial collapse.

  2. Thomas Bergbusch

    Fine article, except for that silly bit about war of independence — where “independence” was the right for land speculators violently to appropriate First Nations lands across the Appalachians, in contravention of the Quebec Act (an”intolerable act”), which established the Indian Reserve, including much of what is now southern Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota. The American “Revolutionaries” numbered significantly more slave owners than the Loyalists, too. John Hancock would have got on really well with the Governors of the RBS! And between Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown, there is little to choose — if anything, Brown, incredibly, is closer in philosophy to MMTers!

    According to Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther, authors of The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates, George Washington ranks at number fifty-nine in the list of top 100 wealthy Americans through the ages. John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin also fall in the top 100. Hancock is fifty-fourth, and just beats Washington to the post as richest colonial American. Benjamin Franklin’s publishing interests, as well as his Philadelphia land holdings, elevate him to eighty-six. These rankings reflect not just the dollar value of each man’s estate but also the ratio of each man’s wealth to the gross domestic product.

  3. I am just getting familiar with your work and ask out of genuine ignorance and curiosity – What say you to Krugman’s piece this morning in the NYT that disaster awaits if Scotland uses the British pound and does not have its own currency?

  4. Pingback: Mick Jagger, Gordon Brown, and Paul Krugman Lead the Charge for British Rule of Scotland - New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives