The SNP is usually adept at picking its battles so, in relation to the winner of this week’s Worst Motion of the Week, perhaps Marco Biagi MSP is too wet behind the ears to know when it is best to quit while one is only slightly behind. Or, perhaps young Marco is being put out to bat as a sacrificial lamb but, either way, a call to “make GIB a Scottish Company” can only ever fail in today’s climate.

The Green Investment Bank was recently placed in both Edinburgh & London and renamed the ‘UK Green Investment Bank’, for obvious Nationalist fox-shooting purposes. Many may grumble that this was a political decision but that, I’m afraid, is Westminster’s wont. The message from the coalition is clear – ‘here are some jobs and investment opportunities that would not be of the same level if Scotland was independent. Vote Yes in 2014 and we’ll take those jobs and that money back to London’.

The referendum is not going to be won and lost over 70 jobs and £2bn of renewable investment but this was a rare example of a union dividend coming Scotland’s way and the SNP’s posturing of calling for a UK Government to place a UK institution in Scotland, less than three years away from an independence referendum, is foolishly drawing attention to this UK benefit and, on top of that, has always sounded a bit childish.

Anyway, here is the motion (and a Lib Dem amendment to it):

Motion S4M-02542: Marco Biagi, Edinburgh Central, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/03/2012
Make GIB a Scottish Company

That the Parliament welcomes the recent announcement that the Green Investment Bank (GIB) is to be based in Edinburgh and considers that this is in recognition of the tremendous strength of Edinburgh as a centre both for financial services and the new green industries; understands that the new Edinburgh-based GIB is registered with Companies House at an address in London; considers it important to have the GIB headquarters in Edinburgh in more than just name, and calls on the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to transfer the company registration to Edinburgh once a suitable venue for the GIB has been identified in the city.
Supported by: Bill Kidd, Annabelle Ewing, Stuart McMillan, John Finnie, Adam Ingram, Christina McKelvie, Mike MacKenzie, Joan McAlpine, Kevin Stewart, Angus MacDonald, Maureen Watt, John Mason, Jean Urquhart, Mark McDonald, Bill Walker, Roderick Campbell, Kenneth Gibson, Dennis Robertson, David Torrance, Margaret Burgess, Linda Fabiani, Fiona McLeod, Bob Doris, Dave Thompson, Gil Paterson, Christine Graham

Motion S4M-02542.1: Liam McArthur, Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 30/03/2012
Make GIB a Scottish Company

As an amendment to motion S4M-02542 in the name of Marco Biagi (Make GIB a Scottish Company), leave out from “that the Green Investment Bank” to end and insert “by the UK Government that the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is to be based in Edinburgh and considers that this is in recognition of the tremendous strength of Edinburgh as a centre both for financial services and the new green industries; recognises that the headquarters of the GIB will be located in Edinburgh, with the main transaction team based in London, in order to enable a greater commercial reach nationally than could be achieved from one location; believes that basing the GIB’s corporate headquarters, asset management and administrative functions in Edinburgh and its transaction team in London will harness expertise across the country to deliver a strong and successful GIB for the UK, make Edinburgh a centre of excellence for green investment and provide a welcome boost to the city’s economy, and looks forward to the GIB playing a vital role in the UK’s drive toward a sustainable and green future.”

It was an easy riposte for Liam McArthur really, let’s be honest. The UK GiB is an example of London and Edinburgh working as a team, stronger together, weaker apart etc and Scotland being given something and wanting more is not the type of behaviour that is suited to a nation arguing to be mature enough to stand alone on the world stage.

Independence will inevitably involve compromises, and looking to nab UK institutions before the referendum is called rather than gracefully accept the forfeiture is unbecoming of the otherwise typically positive approach adopted by the SNP. If an independent Scotland wants a Green Investment Bank, it can build one. End of. If rUK wants to keep its bank in a foreign country, that’s its decision.

If the 2014 referendum results in a No vote, then by all means call for the UK GiB to be based in Scotland if that’s where the headquarters are but simultaneously looking to move away from the UK while calling for its institutions to be based here seems hypocritical or naïve.

Furthermore, the call is so easily countered by the opposition that a frustrated silence is surely immeasurably preferable, not that silence tends to be preferred over an MSP’s opportunity to submit a below-par motion.