Like many of you I was disappointed at how Scottish businesses engaged in the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Too shy, too timid and incredibly risk-averse were some of the accusations thrown at our businesses and for me, it’s hard to disagree.
That’s why this time around, with the likelihood of another independence referendum increasing, Scottish businesses, their leaders and representatives need to be shouting from the rooftops and proactively engaging in the debate.
Let’s not dance around the issue, for many people like me independence is the single biggest threat to growth in the Scottish economy going forward. From my own experience with the investment funds that I deal with in London and beyond, none are giving any serious consideration to investment in Scotland until the independence referendum has been put to bed.
We thought that the issue had been settled for a generation – but here we are. Without that investment, vital infrastructure projects which can grow our economy are lost for years as finance stalls, or worse, is diverted elsewhere to cities like Manchester and Birmingham which are viewed as a safer bet by the investment community.
In 2014 we asked for clarity on the currency of an independent Scotland and about membership of the EU. Now we’re almost three years on and we still lack any meaningful detail. Quite frankly, without answers to basic and fundamental questions such as those, there’s no compelling business case for discussing having another referendum now.
As a business leader I can’t just sit and sulk, I’ve got to take action to protect my businesses and the hundreds of members of staff employed here in Scotland. That’s why I’ve set up scottish-business.uk – or SBUK – to provide a voice for Scottish business concerned at the prospect of a new referendum.
Within our first two weeks of launching, we’ve already had support from around 350 people working in business from a broad range of sectors across Scotland. The message is coming through loud and clear that Scottish business wants stability and an end to the political uncertainty. We want to get on with the task at hand – providing jobs and growth across our cities and communities – not navel gazing toward an uncertain and dangerous future.
However, to continue to be an effective advocate for Scottish business over the coming years we need your help and support to grow our numbers. We’ll be putting together a board and spokesperson to highlight the concerns of Scottish business and also to put forward a positive case about the benefits of remaining within our United Kingdom.
So to borrow a political slogan from Conservative history – if you’re thinking what we’re thinking – then please sign-up to join the chorus of opposition to another Scottish referendum on independence at www.scottish-business.uk.
Robert Kilgour is the founder of scottish-business.uk.