Jim McColl may back Scottish independence if third option omitted
ONE of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs says he may back independence if Scots are denied a third option on more powers for Holyrood in the referendum.
Clyde Blowers tycoon Jim McColl warned other Scots would do the same if they were faced with a straight “Yes-No” question on the ballot paper.
His intervention follows the revelation by Kwik Fit tycoon Sir Tom Farmer, a leading SNP supporter, that he is not convinced by the case for independence and wants Scotland to stay in the UK.
Mr McColl has previously called for Holyrood to be handed full economic powers as part of the UK, but says he may be ready to “rethink his views” and back independence if the alternative is no change.
He said: “If the alternative was the status quo, I think it [independence] gives Scots the chance of a better future. I’ve said all along that my preference would be full fiscal autonomy and I think there are advantages from remaining part of the United Kingdom. However, if the alternative is the status quo, then I may rethink my views.”
He went on: “I think the position we’re in just now is not one that’s going to give Scotland any sort of future that would be beneficial to businesses and the people of Scotland, so we certainly need change and I’m very supportive of a second question.
“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.”
Pro-union parties claimed there was “precious little” support from leading business figures at the launch of the Yes campaign on Friday. It was dominated by showbusiness figures, including film stars Brian Cox, Alan Cumming and Martin Compston, Scotland’s Makar Liz Lochhead and singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean.
Mr McColl, who lives in the tax haven of Monaco, wants a third option of more powers for Holyrood on the ballot paper in the 2014 referendum. He said: “I think it would be good to give the voters a clear view of what the alternative is to the status quo and staying in the Union.”
Mr McColl is chief executive of Clyde Blowers, whose turnover is about £1.4 billion. He sold Clyde Union Pumps, where he served an apprenticeship, for £750 million last year after buying the struggling firm for £45m in 2007, saving 600 jobs in the process.
His comments were welcomed by Nationalists.
“Jim McColl is one of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs, and his vast experience clearly tells him that the status quo is holding Scotland back,” an SNP spokesman said.
“Scotland badly needs a range of fiscal levers, which would allow us to support our key growth industries, attract international investors and create new jobs. The SNP recognises that there is support across Scotland – from individuals and organisations – for a ‘more powers’ option in the referendum.
“However, the anti-independence parties seem unable to unite around any alternative.”
All sides of the independence debate are desperate to attract support from business figures.
• Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is embarking on a week-long tour of businesses to discuss the benefits of being part of the United Kingdom. He will meet workers in key sectors of the economy, taking in a distillery, tidal energy scheme, financial services firm, electronics company and bus manufacturer.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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