Business Voices for Independence

Pluralism, not socialism, is the key to Scottish independence

If independence is to prevail then its supporters must offer a pluralistic, forward-looking path to stability and prosperity through the powers of independence and then contrast that to the economic damage and loss of global status that comes as part of the UK’s Brexit package. Whether soft or hard Brexit (or as I suspect; something in between), all forms of Brexit will hit Scotland harder than elsewhere in the UK.

I believe that an overwhelming discussion ending in an independence vote of around 60 per cent can only be delivered by winning over those who voted No in 2014 (with a heavy heart) due to their vulnerability to scaremongering on economic worries, their fear of upheaval and uncertainty, and resistance to change. Independence will be delivered through the votes won by addressing the concerns of conservative, traditional thinkers.

I don’t mean conservative as in voters of the Conservative Party but conservative with a small c – as in traditionalists who value stability, venerate institutions and traditions, who fear radical change, and whose values include positives that match the independence cause such as character, virtue, self-reliance, discipline, heritage, enterprise and sustainability.

Traditionalists vote for Unionist parties largely because they fear the change that independence would bring to the institutions and traditions they value (purely because they value traditions and institutions).  They can be Conservative, Labour or Liberal voters, some even vote SNP as many SNP voters didn’t vote for independence.  All traditional parties are full of conservative thinkers regardless of their position on the left or the right of the old-fashioned political spectrum.

You won’t be surprised to hear me say that an independence prospectus that comes from the right is bound to fail as it would alienate the left-of-centre voters who voted Yes last time. However, we also need to understand that one that comes exclusively from the left will also fall because it will alienate the soft right-of-centre Yes voters from 2014 and put up a barrier to the newly confused traditional thinking swing voters created by Brexit. I will be blunt – there are not enough on the left in Scotland to guarantee a future Yes vote and younger left wing radicals are the demographic least likely to vote.

A left-wing independence prospectus just helps Jeremy Corbyn who is an old-fashioned socialist, and offers nothing but Unionism and more of the same outdated, failing political spectrum. In any contest understanding your opponent offers an advantage, but a large section of the Yes community seems to think the independence debate is about left vs right.

The enemy is not the right, it is the fear of change that traditional thinkers feel and that Unionism exploits. Voters that are victims of the fear spread by Unionists need to be engaged positively, educated, informed and protected from it. Aiming a prospectus at only half of the electorate (the left) simply increases the fear felt by the other half (the right).

The often used simplistic good-vs-evil analysis demonstrates that many within the movement don’t understand our opponents. First of all, traditional thinkers make up most Labour voters and they have the same values and fears as the Tory voters that need to be addressed. Secondly, Tories are not evil. Wrong maybe, but the idea that they don’t care at all is misguided at best, wilfully stupid at worst. Most Tory voters are not wealthy – the Conservatives couldn’t win elections if that were the criteria. They are traditional thinkers who sit mostly only slightly to the right of centre.

Traditional thinkers on the right believe in self-reliance, they believe that people who receive benefits rather than working are being encouraged not to work. They believe that if you damage people’s individual responsibility then you discourage hard work and enterprise.  They call it the moral hazard of the welfare state, they believe that by trying to help the poor the left force the poor into a cycle of dependence on the state generation after generation. I think thats 99% bollocks but its one of the most widely held beliefs in UK and US politics.

They believe that if the state intervenes then the markets don’t work effectively and people get poorer, and they believe that the Government shouldn’t meddle.  They believe as wholeheartedly as anyone on the left that poverty is a problem and want to end it. They just believe that individuals and not the state should do charity, that the market is the solution to poverty and growth, and that socialism creates a self-fulfilling cycle of failure.  They are more likely to be religious and attend church, and they see themselves as highly moral. So when an independence march is led by a huge sign that says “Tory Scum Out!” it sends a message to all traditionalist thinkers on the right that the independence campaign hates them and therefore they conclude that independence has nothing to offer them.

I am clearly not a traditional thinker, more a radical progressive and I believe you can’t have a strong economy without a strong society and vice versa. What’s the point of independence if we don’t start with a fresh set of political and economic values that can bring everyone together? A vision that measures the success of the economy in terms of its impact on society and investment in society as an enabler of economic success.

We must now focus on the huge opportunity to do things better than the UK. To get people accept that change is coming but that its poise change, and compare their new choice of the isolating, separatist, self-harming and xenophobic undertones of Brexit-led change with an international, inclusive, forward-looking, non-partisan change with a new economic approach.

We as a movement have to balance the values of traditionalists on both sides of the old political spectrum in a new pluralistic socio-economic approach. We should forget the old politics and forge a new coalition of the enlightened, win big and create a nation that sets the economic and political standard for this century, not the last.

Absolutely, there are those that will remain No voters at any cost, and I would advise not even engaging them. This article is about the No voters who were scared (often of being thrown out of the EU), who are now confused and see instability with every constitutional option and are now, due to Brexit, persuadable.   Call it triage – ignore those dead to us, or that would take too much work to convert and go after those traditional thinkers who are pro-European (even if EFTA is the option) and persuade them of the changed realities of the constitutional debate. I think there is a 60% debate ending win for Yes with that strategy, if paired with a pluralistic economic approach.

Pluralistic economic modelling

Pluralism isn’t political translation where parties try to persuade other parties voters that their polices actually solve their key issues when they don’t. Its also not pandering to the right to the left. Pluralism involves a new economics, an approach fit for this century and new Scotland.

If you want to know more please read Elevating economics tells a better independence story than post-Brexit Britain 




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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 Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, 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 Believe in Scotland.


  • “Traditional thinkers on the right believe in self-reliance, they believe that people who receive benefits rather than working are being encouraged not to work. They believe that if you damage people’s individual responsibility then you discourage hard work and enterprise.”

    Unless, it appears, they are right leaning farmers or fishers, those who voted to leave the EU and are now demanding the Scottish Government compensate them for their stupidity by replacing the subsidies they used to get from the EU. People who receive benefits are encouraged not to work, but people who receive subsidies are somehow different.

    • IMHO politics is never that black and white – older people voted Leave and young people have abandoned the countryside for the cities therefor the country side vote is dominated by retired people ipso facto although rural areas voted leave that doesn’t mean all farmers did. I am writing a report on farming and Brexit and I haven’t yet found a farmer who wanted to leave. As for Fishermen yes they voted leave but the onshore fish processing industry which employs massively more people were dead against Brexit. Also West coast fishermen tended to vote remain and east coast leave. Anyway they were promised that the grants would be replaced (they are going to be disappointed) but what grants are replaced for to years or so should come from UK Government coffers and not Scotland’s.

  • I am with you on this Gordon having read your piece in The National and the response from Peter Bell. Perhaps it was a wee bit naïve to go as far as saying that the SNP should not stand as the SNP in the first GE in an independent Scotland, but I agree that every endeavour should be made to be inclusive and invite people from other parties into government. It is absolutely crucial to bring the country together after a binary referendum as the present Westminster government is learning to its cost with its conduct over Brexit. That is an A1 priority to avoid recriminations and loss of focus as the SG plans the way ahead.

    • Hi Bill I never ever suggested the SNP should not stand as the SNP in the first elections after independence indeed I suggested that they would win by a landslide and that they should then form a government of national unity. By form I mean lead and I had assumed that NS would be First Minister. I do think assuming a yes vote in 2019 that by the time the 2nd elections come around in 2025 the SNP will have split into two parties.

      Many who are SNP loyalist to the core (I am not criticising that) read the ˜national piece and had a knee jerk reaction. A letter in the paper yesterday criticised me saying it was madness that the SNP should step back and dissolve having won independence – maybe I should have been clearer but I had just assumed that people would understand that a Government of National Unity had to include the biggest party!

      The idea behind the tactic is that No voters would not feel ignored and cut out of the democratic process post independence and that those that were not willing to serve Scotland would have their careers need and those that were would help bring the country together as we prove that self rule can make Scotland a better place to live, grow up, study, work and do business.

      Thats actually a different article though and I will set out more detail on that on this site on Monday, thanks.

  • >>there are not enough on the left in Scotland to guarantee a future Yes vote and younger left wing radicals are the demographic least likely to vote.

    Have you got data to back up the point about likelihood of voting? If so, I’m surprised not tsk have heard about this before from Common Weal or RIC. Ta.

    • Its a well known situation From You Gov – Despite an increase in in youth turnout, young people are still noticeably less likely to vote than older people. While 57% of 18 and 19 year-olds voted last week, for those aged 70+ the figure was 84%.

      And In fact: for every 10 years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by nine points. The tipping point, that is the age at which a voter is more likely to have voted Conservative than Labour, is now 47 – up from 34 at the start of the campaign.

      From me -The Union and the Tories don’t actually have more support its that their voters actually vote. Thats one of the key reasons I have campaigned for blockchain technology to be used to enable smartphone voting – it will make democracy match demographics more fairly. That my side will be more likely to win in all elections is neither here nor there.

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