AN appeal to business groups not to be silenced in the referendum debate has been made by Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, Margaret Curran.
In a keynote speech to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) last night, Ms Curran called on business groups not to be intimidated amid concerns that the sector has remained silent throughout the debate.
Senior figures, including former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West, have claimed firms are afraid to speak out over opposition to independence because they are afraid of ramifications from the SNP Scottish Government.
Ms Curran said in her speech in Bathgate that the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence should mark the point where business groups speak out and properly scrutinise what is before them.
UK government papers have already highlighted problems with cross-Border trade, the currency and pensions, as well as the future of industries such as shipbuilding with the loss of defence contracts.
“The decision we take next year is going to be the most important that any of us have faced in our lifetimes,” said Ms Curran.
“This isn’t a choice about who is going to run our country for the next five or ten years, no matter how the Nationalists try to portray it. This is a fundamental choice about how we choose to govern ourselves forever.
“This is a debate that needs many voices. People expect to hear from the experts, not just from politicians.
“The organisations that make up the fabric of Scotland, that are part of our national life – our charities, our NGOs, our trade unions – can’t stay silent and sit on their hands for such an important decision.”
She added: “When it comes to budgets, legislation and the general election, business beats a path to our door and you tell us what you want.
“But business in Scotland has been uncharacteristically quiet about the referendum. ”