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By Martin Kelly

A former Conservative party donor has claimed that there are many people in the Scottish business community who will back independence if there is no third option on the referendum ballot paper.

John McGlynn, the Founder and Chairman of Airlink Group, said that he will most likely back independence to get more economic powers for Scotland if the choice is between independence and the status quo.

Mr McGlynn said: “If a stronger powers option is not included in the 2014 referendum I, like many others in the business community, will most likely come to the conclusion that the worst of all options is the status quo and back independence.”

The comments, reported in the Sunday Times, echo recent calls from other leading businessmen Sir Tom Farmer and Jim McColl, who view independence as currently the only means for the Scottish Government to gain the economic levers necessary to boost jobs and growth.

Both men have admitted that if there is no third option on the ballot paper then they too would probably opt for independence.

Speaking to the Scotsman on 29th May, Mr McColl said: “if the alternative was the status quo, I think it [independence] gives Scots the chance of a better future…If it’s just ‘are we independent or not?’ and the ‘not’ is just staying as we are, then I think you’ll find a lot of people will vote for independence so that they get some powers.”

Sir Tom Farmer told the Herald on 30th May: “If it was a case of the status quo and no fiscal autonomy, I don’t think I would be very happy. If the question was, quite simply, independence or no new powers I would lean towards independence.”

Last week Sir Tom Hunter joined the ever growing number of leading businesspeople who are calling for full fiscal autonomy in order to give the Scottish Parliament the economic levers needed to boost the economy.

Speaking on the Sunday Politics Show, Sir Tom called for fiscal powers to be handed over as soon as possible and insisted that Scotland could not afford to wait for over two years to the referendum.

He said: “We can’t put things on hold for two years while we worry about this.  We’ve got to make changes today.

“If people go, ‘well we’ll just wait until we know’, then two years is an awful long time in today’s business world.”

SNP MSP Chic Brodie said that the refusal of the anti-Independence parties to endorse full fiscal autonomy meant that independence was increasingly the choice of those who want to see more financial powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting, Mr Brodie, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee, said:

“This is a positive contribution to the debate from another leading businessman who sees the fantastic opportunity that the referendum offers Scotland.

“More and more people are coming to the view that Scotland voting Yes to independence is the only way to get the economic and job-creating powers this country so desperately needs.

“The anti-independence parties speak about more powers short of independence, but if they don’t take the opportunity to put something concrete on the table it will only encourage more people to vote Yes – as the comments of Sir Tom Farmer, Jim McColl and now John McGlynn prove.

“These successful entrepreneurs recognise that the status quo is not good enough. They know from personal experience that we badly need a full range of fiscal levers to help grow Scotland’s economy and create jobs.

“This intervention from a Tory donor puts huge pressure on Ruth Davidson. The fact is, our leading businessmen want something more than just a promise of jam tomorrow - they want to see real fiscal powers being proposed.

“The SNP has ambitions to make Scotland better – and we will be making the case for a yes vote to the people of Scotland between now and the autumn 2014 referendum.”

The Scottish Government recently held a consultation on whether a third option should be included on the ballot paper.  The responses are currently being reviewed by an independent company.

Currently the Scottish Government remain open minded about whether to add ‘Devo Max’ to the ballot paper, this would see all powers return to Scotland with the exception of defence and foreign affairs.

Unionist parties oppose any addition to the ballot paper and are insisting that Scots be given a choice between the status quo and independence.

Unionist parties are insisting that a decision is taken on independence before any further transfer of powers is discussed.


# RaboRuglen 2012-06-11 07:18
Hi there,

Businessmen are not daft. Never mind the increased fiscal levers which would be available to an Independent Scottish government, they are looking at the present situation and see large amounts of money being taken out of Scotland and spent on projects south of the border, representing business lost to them.

How so? Hugh underspending on defence in Scotland - favouring mainly the south of England, Scottish charities bled dry to fund the London Olympics through the Lottery Fund - by definition favouring the south of England, London sewerage upgrade without the compensation of Barnet consequentials for Scotland - again favouring London specifically, an imbalance in the amount of taxes levied in Scotland against the amount of money spent here - again favouring England.

The list goes on and on. This is all business lost to Scotland. No wonder they are in favour of at least full fiscal autonomy if not outright Independence to ensure a better deal.

The only wonder is that it has taken so long for them to start speaking up, and why they have not yet got round to sacking Mr. McMillan, the spokesman for the CBI in Scotland who appears to be sometimes actively working against the interests of business here in favour of that based in London and the south.

# scottish_skier 2012-06-11 07:19
Anyone running a business who has a head on their shoulders would take this attitude.

Forget 'competing' with the SE of England; simply to achieve a level playing field requires Scotland to have control of tax rates.

The much greater geographical distance of Scotland from the central European markets is not something that can be ignored.

One size does not fit all.
# Jim Johnston 2012-06-11 07:28
I commented on NS two weeks ago that if the "No" campaign offered full fiscal economy, ban all WMD from Scotland, and re-industrialisati on of Scotland..... then the "No" vote might just give "Yes" a run for its money.

That's not a likely prospect, simply because it is Devo something or other, therefore there is no option other than Independence.
# UpSpake 2012-06-11 07:42
Why would the business community require a thrid option when they are perhaps unaware that there is a business friendly approach to independence already set out and ably articualted by the SDA ?. The SNP are by far the largest and most vocal party out there promoting independence but you can readily agree, it's only their version of independence that is being articulated. There are others and more attuned to the needs of business which after all, drives the economy. They ought to be heard and visited also.
Go to the SDA web-site and see for yourself.
# Ken Mac 2012-06-11 09:07
UpSpake. Why don't you contact people like John McGlynn directly and make them aware of the SDA? You could be doing the independence lobby a favour. If more people, business and private, of Mr McGlynn's persuasion were aware of the alternative option to the soon to be defunct Scottish Tories you could help bring a lot more people over from the dark side and start building support for your post independence party.
# Jimbo 2012-06-11 10:20
Hi UpSpake,

Thanks for the link.

I've just had a look through it. A lot of it makes sense. However, re taxation their page is pretty sparse: "The SDA advocates that we change to a low tax economy and spend our tax revenues on cost effective public services in Scotland". If there's more than this elsewhere, I couldn't find it.

Are they basing their taxation policy on the John James Cowperthwaite method, where no individual or business paid more than 15% tax?
# Aplinal 2012-06-11 14:50
Just a small point; it's not the SNP "version" of independence. Independence is what it says on the tin. It's not going to be a question in the referendum which says, "Do you agree that Scotland should be Independent and adhere to all the policies of the SNP?"

After Independence I would expect that the REAL discussions can take place. The referendum is about who makes the decisions. A future Scotland could be governed by a labour government, or a Labour + a n other party coalition, just as likely as an SNP government or SNP led coalition.

We really have got to stop suggesting that the Independence referendum is some sort of national vote on the SNP.

# mealer 2012-06-11 09:20
Hmmm.If you have a head on your shoulders and decide that full fiscal autonomy is essential,what is it about devo max that makes it more attractive than independence? Well,you get to help finance the nuclear bombs parked just outside Glasgow.And you get to contribute to the UK foreign policy thing.Will it bring you extra business? Cant see it myself.
# jim288 2012-06-11 09:32
Good positive article from Dick Winchester in the P&J Energy supplement last week on the implications for the energy sector of Scottish independence. Key point is that the sector is 2-3% of UK GDP but 15% of Scottish GDP, similar to Norway.

All good practical, pragmatic reasoning.

Here's the link:
# xyz 2012-06-11 09:43
It's about time these weee feerties came fully out confidently for independence. I suppose they fear a LabCon backlash affecting their business somehow.

OT - Being reported in the Times: "Families will be forced to pay higher energy bills to fund subsidies to the French for a radical overhaul of the power market, the boss of one of the country’s largest energy companies has warned. Ian Marchant, the chief executive of SSE"

This is great for the Independence argument, and a vindication of SNP energy policy, but how can we avoid paying for Westminster stupidity if we're in a cross border energy market with rUK post 2015?
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-06-11 11:48
An independent Scotland could choose to bring all public utilities back under public ownership -that would do it ...

The main control over power costs will come from the Scottish National Grid charges which I trust will become a public utility once more. By having a 'Scottish National Grid' the government will have leverage over energy costs.

Basically, if they try to charge Scots more to subsidise other non Scottish parts of their business they will find their transmission charges going up in parralel and current subsidies going the other way. This will work because these companies will make their big bucks exporting Scotland's excess capacity.

England is dependent on importing energy, especially electricity, to keep the lights on in London and the SE. London and the SE are especially reliant on the French HVDC interconnector and French surplus nuclear energy output.

The new French Presidency is anti-nuclear and so EDF and other operators in France sense they will see their current nuclear subsidies being cut with little Government money to promote the next generation of French AGRs with these subsides being switched to promote France's alternative power resources.

All Ian Marchant is really saying is, as London and the SE are reliant on French nuclear power generation, it is not a big surprise that French generators are looking at the SE of England (aka Britain or the UK) to pay higher charges to help defray the costs.

You can look at Marchant's comments as yet another good reason for Scotland to cut the ties that bind us to London and the SE.
# ButeHouse 2012-06-11 12:11
Dear Editor

I think you will find it was Sir Tom Hunter who spoke on the Politics Show yesterday, not Sir Tom Farmer, please amend.

VOTE YES in 2014

Thanks - NNS Mod Team
# Holebender 2012-06-11 12:45
I see the strategy of raising expectation by keeping the devo max option open as long as possible is paying off. Once people come to accept that Scotland needs much enhanced fiscal powers they are far more likely to vote for independence than the status quo when it comes down to a single question referendum.
# D_A_N 2012-06-11 13:24
Agreed and I think these business folks should wait till nearer the time to back independence. Just talk about fiscal powers just now to heard the crowd in the right direction :)
# clootie 2012-06-11 16:28
Oil business gravitates towards Aberdeen.
Money business heads for London/ Edinburgh etc

Success breeds success.

Scotland will attract a wide range of new business - simples!

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