IT’S not alarm bells that are ringing, more like a death knell for democracy, or so it seems after reading “RBS closes bank account of Scottish Human Rights Campaigner” (Jul 6) regarding the situation of Professor Lesley Sawers.

RBS was founded in 1727 and by 2008, most of us might have regarded it as a truly Scottish institution. But when it was founded back then it was regarded as the very welcome “new bank” as opposed to the “old bank”, the Bank of Scotland, unwanted by the UK Government of the time.

It was thought the BoS harboured too much of a fondness for the old ways, the Jacobite ways, having been established in 1695 as Scotland’s first and now oldest bank, pre-dating the Bank of England by one whole year. Even back then, perceived as a threat, or at least a bit of the two fingers to London perhaps? With a nod to Europe, only one year later, in 1696, the BoS was the first commercial bank in Europe to successfully issue paper currency.

READ MORE: Shona Craven: Why Nigel Farage and Stuart Campbell losing bank accounts is worrying

RBS was very welcome, then, as the “new bank” upstart to take over, close down, in effect do away with the BoS.

RBS grew and grew (with London backing and approval) and even went so far as to invent the overdraft! But despite early banking shenanigans – like actively buying up BoS bank notes and presenting them for repayment, thus hoping to force BoS out of business – BoS survived and the two remained bitter business competitors right through to 2008.

Sounds familiar? Divide and rule? Destabilise the economy?

And now RBS, post-2008, requiring two bailouts, has became a direct subsidiary of NatWest Holdings, with the UK Government still holding shares of NatWest in the region of 38%. He who pays the piper, perhaps? Just wondering!

READ MORE: Nigel Farage's claims of prejudice from former bank exposed by BBC

Whose account is safe with RBS/ NatWest these days? I may have zero sympathy for a certain Mr Farage, and if his account (Coutts, part of NatWest) dips below the required level, who gives a fig? Folks like him will always find ways to store and grow their money. But everyday folks, workers, how are we to be treated? What about those photographed at Wednesday’s Not My King demo, or Just Stop Oil protesters? What sort of a “mark” might their activities garner? It would appear there may be such a “mark” against the name of Prof Sawers, hence her account being closed. Will she have right of appeal? Will evidence be offered, supporting the issuing of the “mark”?

How ironic then that part of the Equalities and Human Rights Commissioner’s remit is to protect, to focus on good/bad practice and seek accountability.

Well, if I had an account there, I know I’d be closing it, and moving on, but then that might result in my getting a “mark”!

Selma Rahman

YET again we hear the highly predictable claim from some quarters that council -tax hikes for those in the highest bands will lead to a “brain drain”, an “exodus” of middle-class earners, and deter those looking to come to Scotland.

Putting aside that this is a leaked paper from Cosla on a proposed consultation, it notes that those in the highest council tax band, band H, could be forced to pay an additional £741 a year. I am not sure just in excess of £60 a month will cause such a deterrence, with the Volvo packed and headed south. Indeed, I am not sure if the increased level of income tax paid by those with the broadest shoulders has to date caused such an “exodus” or deterrence to come here.

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Orkney shows why islands need more power in their own hands

While the tax impact on the richest is indeed more, those parties gnashing teeth neglect to mention the free tuition enjoyed by Scottish students, with those south of the Border having to pay more than £9,000 a year. Prescription fees in England are also more than £9 per item, while in Scotland they are free. Average water charges are also lower than those south of the Border. Better-funded public services are also a key element that make somewhere an attractive place to live.

Most Scottish taxpayers pay less income tax than their English neighbours, but for those who are better off and pay more, let us not forget the likes of lower water charges, free university fees, free prescriptions and free bus travel for pensioners and young people.

Alex Orr

WHAT does it take to become a Dame? As our MSP Jackie Baillie enjoys a drop of her favourite tipple to celebrate her ennoblement, here’s what a drop means to the good folk of Helensburgh and Lomond.

According to figures from NHS Public Health Intelligence published in November 2022, there has been a drop of 2000 in our population since 2002. Based on average salaries over that period, that’s equivalent to a drop of £52 million a year to the local economy or a drop of £1.04bn over the period.

READ MORE: George Foulkes contradicted as UK officials NOT probing SNP spending

For the last 20 years Ms Baillie has promised thousands of MoD jobs coming to Helensburgh and Lomond, but the drop in population tells a different story.

Helensburgh and Lomond are paying a high price for the Dame. In fact, it’s equivalent to a drop of £2000 in every resident’s income every year. It’s time we dropped the Dame, as her hubris has failed us big time. Far from being humbled, methinks Ms Baillie has been rumbled!

Graeme McCormick