Economics of Independence ScotRef

Good Morning Scotland – Wake up to the opportunities of independence

BBC News24Business for Scotland is now being regularly asked to represent the opinion of the pro-independence business community by the mainstream media or in organised debates.  This is useful for two main reasons:

First, our business spokespeople can offer balance and common sense both of which have been missing from several media outlets so far in the campaign. This time more business people are willing to speak out in favour of constitutional change than against. Many are also concerned that the uncertainty and change they fear comes not with a Yes but with a No vote, including the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union.

Secondly, Business for Scotland now has over one hundred trained ambassadors (from a membership of well over 1,000 business owners) willing to debate – real credible businesspeople, job creators often they have hundreds, sometimes thousands of employees.  The number of ambassadors is growing on a weekly basis. They want to speak out on the referendum but we are often held back by the No Campaign’s inability to find anti-independence business people.

The broadcast media outlets have called us to invite a speaker but later cancel because the No Campaign hasn’t been able to find a representative. There has also been many occasions where independent organisations haven’t had a confirmed No Campaign speaker until the night before their event despite weeks of chasing.

I myself have been asked onto BBC News Channel, Newsnight Scotland and Good Morning Scotland but most of our media appearances are accepted by the leading business people that sit on our board.

The vast majority of our spokespeople have no political party affiliation and so are just speaking as business people who see the significant business and economic opportunities that self governance brings.

Good Morning Scotland

On Saturday, I was invited to debate the latest scare story promoted by the No Campaign and its metropolitan press allies.  BBC Radio Scotland’s breakfast show Good Morning Scotland invited me on the show. The No Campaign put up Daniel Johnston, who is an Edinburgh businessman who has recently bought into a small chain of shops founded by his father.  Actually I would strongly recommend his shops having been a regular customer of Studio One in when I lived in Edinburgh.

You can listen to the debate on the BBC site but I have put the relevant discussions up on YouTube.

The No Campaign has admitted it is really struggling to field senior business owners to speak for them. They have a handful of the usual suspects, in some cases London Tory donors or old pals of Alistair Darling from his time at the Treasury. But where are the garrisons of business people against independence like there was against devolution in 1997?

UK Government Cabinet Minister Alistair Carmichael MP has resorted to virtually begging any Scottish businesspeople to speak out against independence. And yet where is the major response to his rallying call?

Tory commentator Iain Martin of the Daily Telegraphy and Iain McMillan of the CBI, which doesn’t represent its membership on the constitutional question, desperately suggest this is because business is “scared of Alex Salmond”.  With respect to the First Minister, I very much doubt that. Any detective will tell you that the most simple explanation is often the right one.  For sure there will be the odd Scottish businessperson to come out against independence but many more have declared their hand in favour – including several of Scotland’s top self-made entrepreneurs.

There is no positive case for voting No, no guarantee of more powers and certainly no detail on how those imagined powers would be used in Scotland following a No vote.  All the No campaign offers is fear and worst case scenario (often totally implausible ) scare stories.

The truth is that business people know that “the sky will not fall in” if Scotland votes yes.  Serious business people care about their reputations and are not willing to go on TV or radio and back up ridiculous and implausible scare stories such as there will be border controls when the UK government is committed to seamless trade and travel with Ireland, mobile roaming charges when the EU is banning them, and the ridiculous you won’t be able to watch Dr Who claimed just before the 50th anniversary programme was aired in 75 countries.


Business for Scotland is not complacent. We know the UK Government is desperately trying to call in favours. We know there will be some businesspeople who make more interventions in the debate, on both the Yes and No side. However, one thing is clear already – this is not 1997 when 76% of business opposed the devolution that the Scottish people wanted – indeed some polls have shown a majority for independence amongst business owners.  This time more business people are willing to speak out in favour of constitutional change than against and those that are opposed many are beginning to realise that the change they fear might be the change associated with a No vote.


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About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland he ran a small social media and sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and The Huffington Post.


  • Yes, Bill, the Orion threat to leave on a Yes vote is exactly like those of the various nay-sayers in 1997 – including Michelle Mone who swore she would move her business south. She is saying the same thing again now!

    Well done, Gordon.

  • A while back Better Together were going strong on the headline of a survey of business owners which indicated only around 25% were backing a YES vote.

    Obviously pretty bad news for the YES side, until further figures in the same survey showed that only about 25% of those surveyed had actually begun to consider the consequences of independence.

    I’m sure it would be over-simplifying things to state that 100% of those who had considered the consequences had opted to vote YES, but it does kind of point to that.

  • So glad to have someone of Gordon’s calibre represent the Yes campaign.Every time I have complained about bias reporting on TV programmes I have suggested that they use Gordon to get the facts and an informed debate. Anyone who listens to you Gordon is bound to be persuaded that Yes is the only way to vote’
    Thank God for you !

    • Thanks Moe but it really is a team effort and although it was me this week we have over 100 business Ambassadors and speakers ready to make the case across Scotland and through the media.

  • I don’t wish to be disparaging of business supporters of the Union but whenever I am in their company I get the impression that they lack some self confidence and that the challenge and benefits of international trade are beyond their comfort blanket.

    I suspect that many of them are second generation business owners who don’t have the drive to create something really successful by their parents or grandparents but are at best a steady hand on the tiller provided that the commercial winds arenit too strong

  • What about that guy Alan Savage of Orion Recruitment Agency who says he will move his business out of Scotland if there is a ‘Yes’ vote?

    If ever there was an opportunity for a recruitment agency surely it would happen in a newly independent Scotland when we would need to establish a home and foreign civil service.

    Methinks his politics is getting in the way of his common sense!

    • Bill.. good example.
      His (Savage’s) pathetic threat reminds me of a certain Ian Wood who similarly threatened during the 90s, to move his business (largely oil & gas industry related) out of Scotland in the event that there was a Yes vote for a Scottish Parliament. Well.. He’s still here, Wood Group is even bigger and much more successful (which is why I’m a shareholder !) and Sir Ian sounds nowhere nearly as anti-Scots as before. I wonder why ….

      At the end of the day, business people will invest where they can get a return on investment – pure and simple.

      As for Orion Recruitment …. there are plenty more fish in the recruitment pond – go fish !

  • What no-one mentions, and which to me is so self-evident, is that in a smaller state as Scotland would be, business, especially small business, would have a much larger voice than it does at present, without being shouted over by the city or multinational interests.

    An independent Scotland must do all it can to work with business to create a competitive environment, which benefits the economy and creates jobs. We have an opportunity to do things differently, to be the leaders in green energy that we should be, to promote ethical business models, streamline our taxation etc. The opportunities are endless. I am tired of hearing the absolutely ridiculous statement that the big companies will up sticks and move out of Scotland if we vote YES. The argument is so patently absurd, and yet people still believe it. Why would anyone do that? What is the business case for such a costly change? It doesn’t exist, such scare stories are purely political. I am relieved to hear that the business people you know are committed to the possibilities that are available, and see beyond the endless negativity of BT.

    I thought the chap BT put up was simply dreadful. You did miss a trick though Gordon, when he was complaining about the risk of transaction charges were Scotland not to be using the pound and having a different currency to rUK. He was trying to make a negative argument, but what he actually demonstrated is precisely why business people across the UK see the benefits of a shared currency. If Daniel Johnston doesn’t want a different currency and transaction charges, I am quite sure his business friends down south will not either, which is why we will continue to share sterling in the short-term anyway. Once we are independent it will be much easier to sell people on the merits of our own currency.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Why does nobody mention upon the fact that Sterling is BRITISH currency not English – it is as much ours as it is England, Wales and Northern Ireland

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