Business dilemma

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How we should respond to the interventions by various business leaders in the independence debate is an interesting dilemma. Most businesses will be rightly assessing the opportunities and threats that a Yes vote might create. This is a standard type of analysis that well-run businesses carry out on a regular basis, particularly when facing significant change.

It will include an analysis of risks, assumptions, impact and probability. It should come as no surprise that every business in Scotland will conclude that independence will create risks and a uncertainty. Equally though, successful businesses know that without change, without risk and uncertainty there would be no opportunity. In other words, risk and uncertainty are what drive market economies and without them market economies would grind to a halt.

Should these business leaders write a letter to their employees and make their analysis known to the media? Are the views of a business leader more important than any other working man or woman? My advice to business leaders is to hud yer wheesht. If they want to be politicians that’s fine, but to pretend that they can intervene in the debate but remain neutral is either naive or – more likely – disingenuous.

Perhaps our business leaders should think about what it would be like to run Scotland if it was business that was part of a bigger business (the UK). You can make sales (raise taxes) but you don’t receive the direct benefit of any initiatives you put in place to increase sales – one of the bosses down south is promising to give you a small fraction of the benefit in the future but can’t confirm when (Labour).

Most of your staff are demotivated and face a future bereft of opportunity. Group productivity is 80 per cent lower than your Norwegian competitor. Finally, the boss down south tells you how much you get to spend each year but seems entirely focused on how to grow the head office function (London).

Perhaps the business leaders would conclude that they need to make changes to create a vibrant, new, highly productive company, where they control all the expenditure, receive all the income from sales and can create opportunities for all their staff – think of it as a management buy-out!

Andrew S R Gordon 

Craiglockhart View
Edinburgh