Scottish independence: Businessmen slam debate

Jim McColl: Called for end to 'scaremongering' and lack of facts from both sides. Picture: Robert Perry

Jim McColl: Called for end to 'scaremongering' and lack of facts from both sides. Picture: Robert Perry

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TWO leading Scottish business figures, Jim McColl and Sir Tom Farmer, have condemned the quality of debate surrounding next year’s independence referendum, accusing the Unionist camp of “scaremongering” and the Yes Scotland campaign of lacking thoroughness in their vision.

• Leading businessmen Jim McColl and Sir Tom Farmer call for more clarity from both sides of Scottish independence debate

• McColl claims pro-Unionist camp are “scaremongering” while Yes Scotland’s vision of independence has been unclear

McColl, who has made his fortune in the engineering industry, called on both sides to offer better analysis to the people of Scotland.

Sir Tom Farmer, Kwik Fit founder and previously a financial backer of the SNP, joined McColl’s calls for more facts from both camps.

Mr McColl, who owns the Clyde Blowers engineering empire, said: “I don’t think there is really a debate going on just now. I think what is happening is there are just statements and, in some cases, very misleading statements, statements that are more like scaremongering, rather than a proper debate.”

He added: “There seems to be a rush recently of just scary stories put out by the Better Together campaign.”

Mr McColl also told The Herald: “I don’t know if they are both holding fire because, if you let your argument be known too soon, someone will come out and find a way to oppose it. I don’t think we have got on to the proper honest and open answers, rather than just saying there is another scare story.”

Despite perceptions that he is a supporter of the Yes Scotland campaign, Mr McColl insisted he had “no political axe to grind”.

Answering a question about both parties’ failure to be forthcoming with answers, Mr McColl said: “I thought it would be much more honest and, I suppose, authentic discussion, rather than the scaremongering.”

He said Yes Scotland had only responded to criticism from Better Together with “bullet-point statements”, while citing pensions and currency as two areas where the pro-Union campaign had been light on facts.

“I am sure, from both sides, the analysis has got to come,” said Mr McColl. “The Scottish public aren’t stupid. They are going to get to a point where they want more answers, they want more clarity.”

He added: “The ‘vote No and then we will tell you what we are doing’ won’t wash.”

A Yes Scotland spokesman welcomed Mr McColl’s call for clarity, saying: “Yes Scotland already has a wealth of information that answers many questions people have about independence. But we also recognise there is still a lot of hard work to do over the coming months to provide more answers to other important questions.”

A Better Together spokesman said: “The SNP campaign is putting forward a proposition that is high on assertion and low on facts. We will be challenging them every day between now and the referendum. We will be talking about the many benefits Scotland receives as part of the United Kingdom.”

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